Exploring What the Bible Says About Pettiness: Key Verses
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Exploring What the Bible Says About Pettiness: Key Verses

As Christians, it is important to seek guidance and wisdom from the Bible on how to navigate different situations in life. Pettiness is one such behavior that can have negative consequences on our relationships and spiritual growth. By exploring what the Bible says about pettiness, we can gain insights into how to uphold our Christian values and rise above this behavior.

The Bible contains many key verses that shed light on pettiness and its dangers. These scriptures provide guidance on how to recognize and overcome pettiness in our daily lives, and help us to develop a spirit of unity, forgiveness, and love towards others.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Bible provides guidance on how to recognize and overcome pettiness
  • Pettiness can have negative consequences on our relationships and spiritual growth
  • Developing a spirit of unity, forgiveness, and love can help us rise above pettiness
  • The dangers of pettiness are highlighted in many key verses in the Bible
  • By exploring stories of individuals who overcame pettiness, we can draw inspiration and lessons to apply in our own lives
what does the bible say about pettiness

Understanding Pettiness in a Christian Context

As a Christian, it is essential to understand what pettiness means in the context of your faith. Pettiness is a behavior characterized by a focus on small and insignificant details, often leading to an unproductive and negative attitude. This behavior is contrary to Christian principles of love, forgiveness, and unity.

When we engage in petty behavior, we often prioritise our ego and desires over the well-being of others. This goes against Jesus’ teachings, which instruct us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to put the needs of others before our own. Such small-minded behavior can bring strife and division, which are antithetical to the spirit of unity that should exist within the Christian community.

The Dangers of Pettiness

It’s easy to dismiss pettiness as a harmless personality quirk, but the Bible highlights its dangers. Proverbs 6:16-19 states, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:…one who stirs up conflict in the community.” Pettiness can drive wedges between people and create conflict, making it one of the things that God hates.

Furthermore, pettiness can hinder our personal growth as Christians. Philippians 2:3-4 instructs us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Pettiness prevents us from putting the needs of others before our own and can lead to a lack of spiritual growth.

Overcoming Pettiness in a Christian Context

The path to overcoming pettiness starts with recognizing its presence in our lives. Romans 12:2 instructs us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This transformation requires us to be aware of our behavior, thoughts, and attitudes, and to actively work to change them.

One practical way to overcome pettiness is to practice forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 instructs us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness releases us from the burden of offense and frees us to display the love and unity that Christ displayed during His time on earth.

Another way to overcome pettiness is to focus on developing a spirit of love. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruits of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we focus on cultivating these qualities, we are less likely to engage in petty behavior.

In conclusion, pettiness is a behavior that is contrary to Christian principles of love and unity. Recognizing its presence in our lives is the first step in overcoming it. By practicing forgiveness and cultivating a spirit of love, we can rise above petty behavior and live a life that reflects the values of our faith.

Scriptures that Highlight the Dangers of Pettiness

The Bible contains many verses that warn against the dangers of pettiness. One such verse is Proverbs 19:11, which states, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” This verse emphasizes the importance of being slow to anger and forgiving those who have wronged us. Being petty, on the other hand, can lead to a cycle of resentment and bitterness.

Another verse that highlights the dangers of pettiness is James 3:16, which states, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” Pettiness often stems from jealousy and a desire to get ahead at the expense of others. This verse reminds us that such behavior can lead to disorder and chaos.

Matthew 18:15-17 offers guidance on how to deal with petty behavior within the church community, stating, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” This verse recognizes that petty behavior can create conflict within the church community and offers a way to address it in a constructive manner.

Finally, Ephesians 4:31-32 reminds us of the importance of forgiveness and letting go of petty grievances: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” By letting go of our petty grievances and forgiving others, we can cultivate a spirit of kindness and love, rather than one of bitterness and anger.

Biblical Examples of Overcoming Pettiness

The Bible presents numerous stories of individuals who overcame pettiness through their faith in God and commitment to living a virtuous life. These examples offer guidance and inspiration to help us rise above petty behavior in our own lives.

David and Saul

David’s relationship with King Saul was fraught with pettiness and jealousy. Saul saw David as a threat to his throne and sought to kill him multiple times. Despite this, David did not succumb to pettiness and continued to honor and respect Saul as God’s anointed king. In fact, he had multiple opportunities to kill Saul but chose not to, recognizing that it was not his place to take revenge.

David’s example reminds us that even when we are treated unfairly, we should respond with grace and humility, refusing to engage in petty behavior.

Joseph and his Brothers

Joseph’s story highlights the dangers of jealousy and pettiness among siblings. His brothers sold him into slavery out of envy for the love and attention he received from their father. However, even in the midst of betrayal and injustice, Joseph maintained his faith in God and remained steadfast in his commitment to righteousness.

Joseph’s experience teaches us that even when those close to us act in petty and hurtful ways, we can choose to rise above the negativity and respond with forgiveness and love.

The Pharisees and Jesus

The Pharisees were notorious for their petty legalism, seeking to trap Jesus in his words and actions. However, Jesus did not give in to their petty behavior. Instead, he responded with wisdom, grace, and truth, showing them a better way to live.

Jesus’ example reminds us that we can respond with kindness and love even in the face of pettiness and hostility from others.

These biblical examples of overcoming pettiness offer us hope and inspiration in our own lives. By following the examples of David, Joseph, and Jesus, we can transcend petty behavior and live a life marked by grace, humility, and love.

Wisdom for Overcoming Pettiness in Everyday Life

As Christians, we are called to rise above pettiness and live with a spirit of love and unity. However, this can be easier said than done, especially when faced with difficult situations in our daily lives. Here are some scriptures that offer wisdom and guidance on how to overcome pettiness:

  1. “Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:9
  2. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
  3. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

These verses remind us to respond to negativity with positivity, to choose words that build others up instead of tearing them down. It can be tempting to retaliate or speak ill of those who have wronged us, but as followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard of behavior.

In addition to these scriptures, the following practical tips can also help us overcome pettiness in our daily lives:

  • Practice empathy and put yourself in the other person’s shoes
  • Focus on finding common ground instead of dwelling on differences
  • Communicate openly and honestly with others, avoiding passive-aggressive behavior
  • Forgive those who have wronged you, even if they have not apologized or changed their behavior
  • Choose your battles wisely and recognize when it is better to let things go

By practicing these strategies and incorporating the wisdom of scripture into our everyday lives, we can overcome pettiness and live with a spirit of love and unity.

Embracing Unity and Love: The Antidotes to Pettiness

As we have seen, the Bible contains numerous warnings against pettiness, but it also offers a way out. The answer lies in cultivating unity and love, which are the antidotes to pettiness.

Unity is a crucial theme in the Bible and something that Christians should strive to achieve. In fact, Jesus prayed that His followers would be one, just as He and the Father are one (John 17:21). This speaks to the importance of unity in the body of Christ. When we work together and support each other, we are less likely to engage in petty behavior.

Love is another key theme in the Bible. As 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us, love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. When we approach others with this kind of love, we are less likely to engage in petty behavior and more likely to foster unity.

Ultimately, embracing unity and love allows us to rise above pettiness and focus on what truly matters. As Ephesians 4:1-3 tells us, we should live a life worthy of the calling we have received, bearing with one another in love and making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. By doing so, we can become beacons of light in a world that often values pettiness over unity and love.


What does the Bible say about pettiness?

The Bible contains teachings and guidance on various aspects of human behavior, including pettiness. It offers wisdom and insights into the dangers of petty behavior and provides examples of individuals who overcame it.

How can pettiness be defined in a Christian context?

Pettiness, in a Christian context, refers to engaging in small-minded, trivial, or vindictive behaviors that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It includes actions driven by jealousy, ego, or a desire for control, disregarding the principles of love, forgiveness, and unity.

What are some scriptures that highlight the dangers of pettiness?

The Bible warns against the dangers of pettiness in various passages. Examples include Proverbs 14:29, which states, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly,” and James 3:16, which cautions, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Are there any biblical examples of individuals overcoming pettiness?

Yes, the Bible presents stories of individuals who overcame pettiness. For instance, Joseph in the Old Testament forgave his brothers who sold him into slavery, displaying forgiveness and rising above pettiness. These examples serve as inspiration and guidance for believers.

How can we overcome pettiness in our everyday lives?

The Bible offers practical wisdom for overcoming pettiness. Verses such as Colossians 3:13, which encourages forgiving one another, and Ephesians 4:2, which urges us to be patient, kind, and humble, provide guidance on how to navigate situations where pettiness may arise.

What does the Bible emphasize as antidotes to pettiness?

Unity and love are emphasized as antidotes to pettiness in the Bible. Scripture teaches believers to embrace unity, as in Psalm 133:1, which states, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Love, as exemplified in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, is portrayed as the highest virtue, capable of transcending petty behavior.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.