What Is the Pride of Self-righteousness?

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: (Luke 18:9 KJV)

Self-righteousness religious pride showing a peacock

When many of us hear of pride, we often think of the pride associated with earthly accomplishments or social status. However, as Christians, other subtle forms of pride could potentially be more catastrophic than overt forms. One of these cryptic forms is the pride of self-righteousness.

There is, perhaps, no other story in the Bible that captures self-righteousness, like the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went into the temple to pray. (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee’s prayer is iconic: 

“God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” (Luke 18:11 KJV)

He did not only blow his trumpet before God, but he saw himself better in God’s sight than the publican. And then he went further to list some of his religious credentials: 

“I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” (Luke 18:12 KJV)

This Pharisee had a tight fasting schedule—twice every week, and he paid his tithes faithfully. So fasting and tithing were two sources of deep spiritual pride for this Pharisee. If you look closely, it becomes immediately obvious how this form of pride is closer to us than we might realize. 

For some, fasting or tithing might not be why they see themselves as better than others. It could be deep theological knowledge, spiritual gifts, “power tongues”, ministry accomplishments, etc. Surprisingly, even ministry affiliations or denominations today have become a source of spiritual pride for some.

None of these things are wrong in themselves. Instead, it is our attitude and the motivations of our hearts that matter to God.  Beware of religious pride in your Christian walk or ministry.


Where are you often tempted to become spiritually proud?

Apply the Word

Most of us will almost never see ourselves as proud—until God gives us His side of the story. Allow the Spirit to rid your heart of every form of dormant, hidden, or cryptic religious pride.


Ask the Spirit to open your eyes to see areas where pride might have crept in. 

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