It occurred to me recently that I own several books dedicated to the topics of humility and pride (and, I’m sure, many more that deal with them in passing). I began to wonder how each of the authors define their terms and, with a little bit of research, here is what I came up with. You will see that all define humility but not all so clearly define pride.
William Farley (Gospel-Powered Humility)
Humility is the capacity to see myself in God’s light, in the context of his holiness and my sinfulness.
Pride is spiritual blindness, a delusional, inflated view of self. It is unreality on steriods.
Let me also include a worthy quote: “Here is the great paradox: the proud man thinks he is humble, but the humble man thinks he is proud. The humble man sees his arrogance. He sees it clearly, and as a result he aggressively pursues a life of humility, but he doesn’t think of himself as humble. The proud man is completely unaware of his pride. Of all men he is most convinced that he is humble.”
C.J. Mahaney (Humility: True Greatness)
Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.
Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him.
Wayne Mack (Humilty: The Forgotten Virtue)
Humility consists in an attitude wherein we recognize our own insignificance and unworthiness before God and attribute to Him the supreme honor, praise, prerogatives, rights, privileges, worship, devotion, authority, submission, and obedience that He alone deserves. It also involves a natural, habitual tendency to think and behave in a manner that appropriately expresses this attitude.
Andrew Murray (Humility)
Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all.
Based on these definitions, it seems that the key to pride is the desire to elevate myself so I can have God’s position and status for myself. It effectively lowers God as it elevates self. Humility, on the other hand, is simply a right assessment of myself that takes into account the infinitely vast gulf between Him and me. Put in those terms it hardly seems like it should be the lifelong battle it is for each of us. And yet we feel its pull every day.