Is Pride Deadly? by Timothy Keller

As part of our efforts to grow as disciples and make disciples, we work on becoming more proficient in spiritual outcomes through our Spiritual Growth Path at Gateway Church in Austin.

In our staff life group this past week, we were working through the outcome Humility.

As part of our time together, we listened to a message on pride called “The Man the King Delights to Honor” by Timothy Keller.

The message comes out of the book of Esther. (See an excerpt below).

The Character of pride

Haman is furious about Mordecai. Even though he had so much, Haman still wanted to destroy Mordecai because Mordecai would not bow to him. – Esther 5

Pride is concentration and absorption on the self.

“Pride is ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration on the self.” – CS Lewis

Two forms of pride:

  1. Superiority – arrogance when comparing ourselves to others
  2. Inferiority

Humility – not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less

A humble person is not needy but is very interested in others. Humble people are relaxed because they aren’t exhausted by trying to please people.

Deadliness of pride

Haman decided to destroy all of Mordecai’s people since Mordecai did not bow down to him. Haman approached King Xerxes about this idea without revealing the identity of the people group.

Pride goes before a fall.

All pride is deadly.


Pride makes us foolish because we fail to learn from our mistakes. We justify ourselves and refuse to listen to criticism.

Humble people look for their faults and listen to criticism in any failure so they learn and grow fast.

Pride – we overestimate or underestimate our part

Pride makes us evil. St Augustine said that pride is the root of all evil. It’s the Petri dish in which evil grows. For example, you cannot become bitter unless you see yourself as better than the person with whom you are bitter.

Pride is camouflaged. Pride is the carbon monoxide of sin. It is killing us without us knowing.

Pride gets worse with religiosity. Religiosity can decrease lust or greed but not pride. Pharisees are the most proud of all.

The cure for pride

Haman not only wants to kill Mordecai and his people, but he also wants a public spectacle of Mordecai.

Xerxes remembers through a dream that he had never honored Mordecai for saving his life. Without revealing the identity of the one to be honored, the king asks Haman what he should do. Haman, thinking the king is talking about him, talks of putting the king’s robes onto the man to be honored. Haman is thinking he would be treated like royalty by the king!

We want someone we think highly of thinking highly of us. This is a good thing to seek, but Haman asked for this from the wrong king.

Xerxes then commands Haman to do this to Mordecai and to be the one serving him.

Jesus said: “we find our lives when we lose our lives.” This is a spiritual principle.

For example, You will never make a good impression on people until you stop trying to make a good impression on people.

Haman didn’t ask the right king! Jesus is the King who reversed places with us! He took what we deserve so we can have what He deserved!

Jesus asks for the Father to give us the glory He deserved! Glory is delight and honor.

Healing from pride begins when we admit we are proud.


After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply.Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles,the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.

His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”

“Bring him in,” the king ordered.

When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor,have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”

10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

– Esther 3:1-6; 6:1-10

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