When God says, "By pride comes only contention," He means that this kind of pride has not a single good fruit! Not even one! The pride of Helel, who became Satan, brought him into contention with God, two-thirds of the angels, the demons who now submit to him and billions of deceived humans who do not resist him. Surely, the demons are a squabbling bunch held together only by Satan's power and their united hatred of God and His children. This has occurred because they deceived themselves into thinking more of themselves than they ought, which perverted their judgment in other areas of life.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity
What is pride, the subtle yet powerful influence that most commentators believe is the father of all other sins? Hebrew, Greek, and English share the sense of the word's basic meaning: to be lifted up; to have an undue sense of one's importance or superiority.
Pride motivates us to exaggerate the value of our thoughts. It causes us to elevate our opinions and raises the importance of the fulfillment of what we perceive as our needs even above God's and, of course, decidedly higher than our fellowman's.
To be even-handed, the Bible shows that there is also a narrow, positive application of the word, and thus, depending on the context, it can be translated as "dignity" or "glory." For instance, Proverbs 16:31 reads, "The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." This verse provides us with a slender sliver of insight that there is a natural pride to which God gives His approval. However, He qualifies it with "if it is found in the way of righteousness." Righteousness is the very thing pride sets itself to resist, making achieving a proper sense of pride more difficult. With God's own Word describing man at his best state being "altogether vanity" (Psalm 39:5 KJV), it certainly makes one wonder what we really have to be proud of!
In the context of the relationship between God and man, the overwhelming number of usages of the six Hebrew words and four Greek words translated as "pride" or its synonyms are negative and damning. These words are translated into such terms as "arrogance," "lifted up," "presumptuous," "loftiness," "proud," "proudly," "exalted," "overbearing," "condescending," "haughty," "superior," "disdainful," "scornful," "boasting," "self-esteem," and "contemptuous." Not all of these synonyms are in the King James or the New King James versions, but various modern translations use them depending on the context.
Pride carries, not only a lofty self-centeredness, but also a lively competitiveness against others that easily becomes a lustful, destroying enmity. It is highly critical, envious, and impatient, and it can be effortlessly stirred to anger, possessiveness, and suspicion of being taken advantage of. These characteristics are part of Satan's spirit. Each of them is destructive to loving family unity within the church.
Living By Faith and Human Pride
Only through pride does contention last. We primarily see the effects of pride because pride is frequently difficult to detect. God has shown in His Word how to detect it: by looking at the fruits. How do we know false prophets? By their fruits, by what they produce.
A quarrel that could be easily settled if both parties were humble continues indefinitely when parties are arrogant. Why? Because pride plows the way for contempt for the others opinion. Pride inflames passion and wounds feelings. Because of competitiveness, also an aspect of pride, a person feels he has to fight back. And so the argument goes back and forth.
If we are ever involved in a quarrel that seemingly will not end, we should be well-advised from God's Word that the problem is pride. It is somewhere in the picture in one or both who are participating in the conflict. The quarrel will never end until one person makes up his mind to stop it by refusing to argue back, suppressing the feeling that he must win.
One of the greatest spiritual advances that I ever made in my life was when it suddenly dawned on me one day that I did not have to win. God is on His throne, and because He loves me and the other person, God will make available to both of us what the right decision is. If we ask patiently, persevering without anger, and if we continue to meditate and search and counsel with Him, the answer will come. So, arguments stop.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Proverbs 13:10: