THEME: Pride and the Local Church

by Heath Rogers

Synopsis: Just as pride leads to the downfall of individuals, Satan exploits pride in his efforts to destroy local congregations.


It is God’s will that the local church be unified and work together. The individual members are fashioned together by the Lord as a functioning body. There is to be no division in the church. Instead, all members are to work together in harmony and have a mutual care for one another (1 Cor. 12:12-25). Just as the church in Jerusalem was of “one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32), our hearts are to be “knit together in love,” which is “the bond of perfection” (Col. 2:2; 3:14).

Satan is the great enemy of God’s people, both individually and collectively. We know how this enemy works (2 Cor. 2:11). In this study, let us consider some ways in which Satan uses pride in his efforts to divide and destroy local churches.

Members Putting Themselves First

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (Jas. 4:1). Church problems often originate when individual members elevate their desires, interests, and importance above that of the local church and the cause of Christ.

Romans 12:2 exhorts believers to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Part of this change involves the way we see ourselves as members of the local church. “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly. . . so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (vv. 3, 5). Our place in the local congregation is working alongside others to achieve a common goal. This position is maintained through humility (vv. 10, 16).

Pride prompts us to put ourselves above all others. Seeking one’s own interests will “destroy the work of God” (Rom. 14:20). Paul warned the Galatians that if they did not love and serve one another, they would “bite and devour one another” (Gal. 5:13-15). Imagine a local church reduced to a pack of wild animals attacking one another until only the “strongest” one remains! This carnage, seen all too often, is the result of pride.

Members Showing Partiality and Favoritism

Sometimes the impact of pride takes a more subtle form than a vicious attack. Satan can use pride to sow seeds of resentment and discord in the hearts of the members.

Paul told Timothy to be careful to address sin, even in the eldership, without showing favoritism: “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21).

It can be very discouraging for Christians to see others “get away with sins” because they are serving as elders, members of important families, or putting large amounts of money in the collection plate. It is also discouraging to hear the preacher constantly hammer away at one’s sins while saying nothing about the sins committed by his friends or relatives. Such favoritism will eventually drive a wedge between the members and lead to division in the church.

Members Refusing to Forgive One Another

Reconciling differences and extending genuine forgiveness can be a significant challenge to one who is filled with pride. To forgive means to let go or to send away. Sometimes our pride does not want to let go of an offense. Instead, it wants to nurse the wound and hang on to the offense for future use.

In one place where I preached, there was a member who would tell me the year, month, and day that someone had done something to him. He did this on several occasions. Can you imagine the emotional baggage that such a person carried with him? Can you conceive of the poisoning effect that his attitude had upon the congregation? It was terrible.

A Christian’s unwillingness to forgive a penitent brother doesn’t just affect his own heart and soul; it negatively impacts the entire congregation. In the “Parable of the Unforgiving Servant,” the fellow servants were “very grieved” when one refused to forgive another (Matt. 18:31). Instead of being a harmonious workplace, unresolved offenses turn the local congregation into a minefield. Everyone must be careful where he “steps.” If they mention the one member to another or are seen taking one’s side over the other, the wounded pride will explode.

Pride in the Eldership

It is true that a church without elders is lacking (Titus 1:5), but there is one thing that is worse than a church without elders, and that is a church with unqualified elders. An elder cannot be “a novice, lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). An immature man cannot handle being placed in the position of an elder. Such will cause him to be lifted up with prideful conceit, leading him to act in such a way that will condemn him before God.

Unfortunately, some men approach their role as elders with a business model (where they are the man in charge) or with a sports model (where they are the coach calling the plays) or with a military model (where they are the commanding officer barking out orders). These worldly models are attractive because they appeal to a weak man’s pride.

The leadership models of the world are not the model for leadership among God’s people. Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave” (Matt. 20:25-27). It takes considerable humility to be placed in a position of authority and still view oneself as a servant of others.

An elder is a shepherd. His task is to work with the other elders in feeding and protecting the flock, not Lording over it (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2-3). The spirit of Diotrephes (loving to have preeminence and ruling the church as their own) is alive and well in some elderships today (3 John 9-10), Until a man is able to see himself as a servant and willing to lead like a shepherd, he has no business desiring or accepting the work of an elder.


Pride is one of the most versatile weapons Satan uses against the local church. It can be a wedge slowly separating brethren, a wounded ego waiting to explode, a tyrant in the eldership, or a member destroying anyone who stands in his way. Satan doesn’t care how you and I mishandle our pride, as long as the Lord’s house becomes divided, the work grinds to a halt, and the world sees us biting and devouring one another. Are you letting Satan exploit you in his efforts to destroy the church?

Author Bio

Heath has been preaching for the Knollwood church of Christ in Beavercreek, OH since 2011. He and his wife, Christy, have two grown children. The church website is He can be reached at