The Bible tells us that God opposes the proud and that haughty eyes are detestable to Him (Proverbs 6:16-17).
In the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul lists some of the most despicable people on the face of the earth. Among them are those “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity,” those “full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice,” and those he calls the “arrogant and boastful” (Romans 1:29-30); in other words, the proud.
Being broken in spirit was utter rubbish to the Romans. They worshipped the god of power. “If you want to be happy,” the Romans said, “knock your enemy to the ground, put a sword to his throat and say, ‘Make a wish!’”
To the equally proud Jews, being poor in spirit was the last thing in the world to do to be happy. They had their own formula for happiness, and poverty of spirit was definitely not one of the ingredients.
How are we to identify those who are broken in spirit and those who are diseased with pride? Three illustrations in the Bible nail it down for us.
The first is Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. These two men went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” The tax collector, standing at a distance, “would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me a sinner’” (Luke 18:11-13).
Source: Being Happy in an Unhappy World