For a variety of reasons, pride has been on my mind lately. I spent most of my life thinking that pride was not really an issue, this despite the fact that it’s listed as one of the seven deadly sins in the Bible. (Proverbs 6). But that is what someone who lives with pride tells himself. Over the past few years I’ve been realizing more and more how false this belief is, that pride is not an issue. I was listening to Daniel Kolenda recently, who is an evangelist to Africa. He pointed out that Lucifer was a worship leader before God’s throne, and pride was what turned him into the devil. I had to listen to that again. This brings a new perspective on things. Someone at the very throne of God can give up his place in Heaven for the chance at glorifying himself above God. This is what pride does.
I believe my former opinion about pride is rooted in the false assumptions many of us hold about humility. People think of being humble and think of someone who is self-effacing, with a poor opinion of themselves. This is not what humility is, that is just poor self-worth. Humility is more about building others up, rather than tearing one’s self down, though in doing the first, you tend to think of yourself less, as opposed to thinking less of yourself.
C.S. Lewis has some great thoughts on the subject in the book, “The Screwtape Letters”. It’s a fantastic book that has volumes to reveal about human nature. I highly recommend it. I’m paraphrasing because of the format of the book, but C.S. Lewis says,
“Men fix in their mind the idea that humility consists of a certain kind of opinion, namely a low one, of his own talents and character. He fixes in his mind the idea that humility consists of trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. This adds an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method, many people have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. On the other hand, true humility consists of a state of mind in which a man could design the best cathedral in the world, and know that it’s the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more or less glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. God wants him to be so free of any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents. Humility also involves the doctrine that men did not create themselves, that their talents were given to them, and that they might as well be proud of their hair color than of some talent they have.”
This last part is particularly poignant for me. It brings home the fact that every talent I have was given to me by God. I can choose to either use them for Him or not, but they have nevertheless been given to me by God. This gives me no room to look down on anyone else who has not been given the same gift, any more than they should look down on me for the gifts I do not possess.
A few additional thoughts of my own;
Humility seeks the good of others, pride asks only “how does this make me look?” Humility seeks to release people in the gifts they are given, pride seeks to control. Humility rejoices in the triumphs of others, pride seeks to undermine others. Humility knows, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Pride forgets the second part. Humility attracts, pride eventually becomes repulsive.
I no longer think pride is not important.