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SMUG: Having excessive pride in oneself, a high estimation of one’s own ideas or one’s achievements.  Self satisfied, complacent, self-congratulatory, more or less superior, pleased with oneself, self-approving, well pleased, proud of oneself, somewhat better than others, self-centered

Smug is similar to the word proud, found in the Bible.  1) showing one’s self above others, over-topping, conspicuous above others, preeminent.

2) with an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty.

3)  describes one who thinks too highly of himself, describing a trait which is simply internal, not referring primarily to external manifestation, although this is implied. It means one who is proud, the external manifestation when it appears being in the form of arrogance in dealing with others.

You see, smugness is the conviction that you are, at least, just a little bit better than other people. This would be arrogance if it wasn’t also mixed with a pinch of humility.

Smug people know they’re better, and the fact that they appear to be humble about it makes them think they are even better, still.

No wonder they have that annoying smile.

Listen to what Proverbs 6:16 says about smugness or PRIDE:

“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

#1.  Proverbs 6:17  “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue…”

(there are five more, but we can stop here for now)

So, is there a way I tell if I or someone else is being smug?

Here are a few things we might need to watch for.

1.  If you think your answer is the only correct answer, you might be smug.

2.  If other people annoy you for no reason other than the fact they are there, you might be smug.

3.  If you are always, even a little, critical of the places you go and the people you encounter (or see), you might be smug.

4.  If you struggle with the meaning of humility, you might have a problem with being smug.

5.  If you think you are the humble type, you are probably smug.

6.  If you really dislike smug people, you might have a real problem with being smug, yourself.

7.  If you take pleasure and might even secretly find joy in seeing a smug person embarrassed or humiliated, you might have a problem with personal smugness.

8.  If you are judgmental but don’t see that you are, and ascribe traits you don’t like onto others, you might be smug.

There’s more we could list, but you get the idea.

This is a serious matter, but, here is a funny routine, by comedian Brian Regan, about this matter (funny, if it weren’t so true)


Let’s pray for one another to rid ourselves anything that displeases God or injures others.

And, while searching for humility, maybe a good place to start would be to remember that “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Your brother and friend,

Mike Young

PS – Here is a great sermon by Billy Graham on this and related matters. It might help us all.

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