Most of have always heard, beginning early in childhood, that we should take pride in what we do or in ourselves. This instruction often meant that we needed to have a good appearance and be proud of the things and the work that we did as it was a reflection of hard work and perseverance.
But what happens when these things take over and become who we are? We lose focus on the things that are truly important and focus on the things that become our identity. When we lose focus, often the end product is arrogance and being consumed with self.
There was a time in my life when I became very prideful. I became good at what I was doing at the time and really allowed that to become my identity. When I was working in Probation and Parole, I inherited the job of TYC Parole Officer for the three counties that we covered. It was during this time that I excelled at being a parole officer. The duties that I had inherited became a challenge for me and I wanted to be the best. After a few years, I was. I had won an award for the entire northern region of the State of Texas that said so. But the problem was, I began to allow that to become my identity.
When we look at scripture, we see the religious teachers that allowed their Law keeping abilities to define who they were. They were no longer interested in teaching the Law so that the people knew God. But for them they had taken it to the level of being the absolute best and they were proud of their abilities. They were so good that even Jesus would say in Matthew 5:20 “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus wasn't bragging on the Pharisees and teachers of the law, he was describing to his listeners that there is a different type of righteousness altogether. One not by keeping the law but by understanding the love of God and the obligation to that love.
I am sure that becoming prideful is not something that happened with the Pharisees and teachers of the law over night, it took some time. You and I are the same, we don't become full of pride over night but it is a slow fade that happens as we become more and more dependent on ourselves and less dependent on God.