Does the Bible indicate that pride is always wrong and humility is always right?  Before we consider what the Bible says about pride and humility, we want to make clear the meaning of these two terms when we mention them in this article.

Webster’s Dictionary has several definitions of pride.  The primary definitions are “an unduly high opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem; conceit.”  We would add that, according to Webster, such pride often includes selfish ambitions, since ambitions involve “a strong desire to gain a particular objective; . . . the drive to succeed, or to gain fame, power, wealth, etc.”  In contrast, Webster’s secondary definitions of pride are “proper respect for oneself; sense of one’s own dignity or worth; self-respect.”  As for humility, Webster defines this term as “the state or quality of being humble; absence of pride or self-assertion.”

There does not seem to be sufficient reason to believe that the Bible addresses the type of pride defined by Webster’s secondary definitions of that term.  Therefore, we will focus on only the type of pride that is defined by Webster’s primary definitions, including selfish ambitions, all of which indicate an inflated assessment of oneself.  With regard to humility, there is not a need to distinguish between definitions.

Now, we will consider what the Bible says about pride and humility.  [Note:  When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.  And, when bold print is shown in the scriptures that we quote in this article, it is to focus on certain words that we will be addressing in our subsequent discussion.]


Proverbs 8:13b declares, “Pride and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.”

This verse of scripture clearly condemns inappropriate pride in general and arrogance in particular, along with evil conduct and perverse (i.e., corrupt or wicked) speech.

Proverbs 16:5a asserts, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.”

This scripture indicates that God regards people who are inappropriately proud as detestable and disgusting, which is how the term abomination is defined by Webster.

Proverbs 16:18 states, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

According to this scripture verse, being inappropriately proud or having a haughty spirit is likely to result in some form of destruction (or ruin) for the person who demonstrates these types of characteristics.

First John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.”

This verse of scripture states that the pride of life, which The Amplified Bible defines as “pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things,” is a trait that has been ordained by the secular world, but it is not condoned by God.

Although the following passage of scripture does not mention pride, it does mention selfish ambitions, which can be regarded as a form of pride, as we previously indicated.

Galatians 5:19-21 declares, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The seriousness of selfish ambitions is indicated in this scripture by the other types of sins with which selfish ambitions are associated.  The reference to “those who practice such things” refers to people who frequently (or usually) engage in the sins that are mentioned in this scripture.  And, the result of habitually engaging in these sins is that the people who do will not inherit the kingdom of God.  This seems to imply that genuine Christians would not regularly engage in such practices, so the people who do regularly engage in such practices are not Christians and, therefore, they will not have eternal salvation.

[For a further discussion of the sins, including pride, that can prevent the people who practice them from having eternal salvation, click on “Can Many Types of Sins Prevent People from Having Eternal Salvation?]

But, why does the Bible regard inappropriate pride so harshly?  Two of the primary reasons are as follows:

  • Inappropriate pride is the cause of many, if not most, other types of sins. It can be said in this regard that inappropriate pride causes people to allow their life to revolve around what they want to do, rather than around what God wants them to do.
  • Inappropriate pride is often the reason why people are not willing to believe in God and/or to allow Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. Believing in God and allowing Jesus to be their Lord necessitates not only that a person acknowledge that he (or she) is a sinner, but also that he (or she) is willing to truly repent for their sins, including their inappropriate pride.


In Matthew 18:4, Jesus Christ declares, “[W]hoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

This verse of scripture implies that Jesus regarded humility as a very important virtue.

Colossians 3:12 admonishes, “[A]s the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.”

Humility is evidently regarded by this scripture as similar in importance to mercy (i.e., compassion), kindness (i.e., compassion), meekness (i.e., gentleness), and longsuffering (i.e., patience).

Titus 3:2 states, “[S]peak evil of no one, . . . be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

This scripture indicates that humility is as important as not slandering (i.e., not making statements that damage another person’s reputation), being peaceable (i.e., not being quarrelsome), and being considerate (i.e., being thoughtful about the well-being of other people).


The Bible implies that there will be severe consequences for people who are inappropriately proud.  Conversely, the Bible indicates that humility is a characteristic that should be demonstrated by everyone, especially Christians.  Therefore, anyone who truly wants to please God should sincerely ask Him to help him (or her) to not only resist their inclinations to be inappropriately proud, but also to be able to appropriately demonstrate genuine humility.