Question: "What does the Bible say about arrogance?"
Answer: The words arrogance, arrogant, proud, and haughty are mentioned over 200 times in the NIV Bible. And in practically every occurrence, it is a behavior or attitude detested by God. The Bible tells us those who are arrogant and have a haughty heart are an abomination to Him: “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). Of the seven things the Bible tells us that God hates, “haughty eyes” [“a proud look,” NKJV] is the first one listed (Proverbs 6:16-19). Jesus Himself said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him,” and then goes on to list the thirteen characteristics of those who are outside of God’s favor, with arrogance being considered alongside sexual immorality and murder (Mark 7:20-23).
There are two Greek forms of the word arrogance used in the New Testament, essentially meaning the same. Huperogkos means “swelling” or “extravagant” as used in “arrogant words” (2 Peter 2:18; Jude 1:16). The other is phusiosis, meaning a “puffing up of the soul” or “loftiness, pride” (2 Corinthians 12:20). It is incumbent upon believers to recognize that being arrogant or having a pompous attitude is antithetical to godliness (2 Peter 1:5-7). Arrogance is nothing more than an overt display of one’s sense of self-importance (2 Timothy 3:2). It is akin to that “it’s all about me” mindset that says, “The world revolves around me” (Proverbs 21:24).
Instead of arrogance, the Bible teaches us the opposite. In writing to the church in Corinth, Paul describes the love. Of the many facets of God’s love, arrogance is the reverse: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4; cf. Romans 12:3). Being boastful and having that “I’m better than you” attitude reeks of intimidation and destroys our relationships with others. However, Jesus taught us to put others before self: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
The apostle Paul echoed these same sentiments in his letter to the church in Philippi: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). This is a vast contrast from the “dog-eat-dog,” competitive nature of our world today. The Christian’s behavior towards others should imitate that of Christ who taught us to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). Where the world pushes us to strive to reach the top and says that “he who has the most toys wins,” Jesus commands us to be different: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11; cf. James 4:6).
Regarding our attitudes towards God and our fellow-man, God gives us two promises. First, that the arrogant will be punished (Proverbs 16:5; Isaiah 13:11), and, second, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). For, in truth, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5; cf. Proverbs 3:34).