I am more passionate than ever about my walk with the Lord, my love for His Word and my willingness to share these treasures with others.
As I have been obedient in sharing my God story with others, I have been surprised by how they are drawn in, like moths to the light. (You hear the problem already, don’t you?)
Always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and fear.
1 Peter 3:15
This is what Jesus instructed us to do and what He promised would happen as a result:
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—Shine!
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14, 16
As I seek to obey the Lord in this sharing thing, I find I must guard against the temptation to misconstrue others’ attraction as being to me rather than to God in me.
My internal voice is quick to rejoice in “the good I have done,” rather than remembering that “no one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)
And I find that I can easily deceive myself that my good works somehow make me worthy:
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, illuminates the nature of the battle:
Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good — above all, that we are better than someone else — I think we may be sure that we are being acted on not by God but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.
What is the answer to this tension then? In a word, humility:
[God] is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of the silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are.
I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off — getting rid of the false self, with all its ‘Look at me’ and ‘Aren’t I a good boy?’ and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to man in the desert.
Not only is humility comforting, it is life-saving. Mr. Lewis continues:
According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature — while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.
And where do we source this humility? In God alone:
In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that — and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited it means you are very conceited indeed.
Lord, It’s Hard to Be Humble…
So the ugly truth is that when I am at my best in serving the Lord’s will I am at risk of the sin of pride, perhaps most at risk, in fact.
The only way to remain in God’s will and avoid sin is to cultivate a humble heart.
Here are some truths I am learning to lean on to tame my wild heart:
- Whatever you see that is good is Jesus in me. My brother shared this piece of wisdom with me and I have grabbed hold of it. I remind myself — and others — that whatever good they see in me is not me, but Christ in me.
- Give God the glory. Any good work I do is through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is not intended to show that I am good, rather it is intended to reveal His love. As a nation we have been so blessed; we would do well to remember that our “riches” are not intended for our comfort, but for His glory.
- “I’m especially fond of that one.” This is a favorite quote from William P. Young’s book, The Shack. As the main character speaks to God about various people, God’s first response is always, “Oh, I’m especially fond of that one.” What a beautiful truth that is. Based not on who we are, but on who God is, He delights in each one of us as a beautiful work of His creation, regardless of anything we have done, good or evil.
This is why Paul instructs us:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
- And lastly, God’s word is sufficient. The very best advice I can give another is God’s truth. Whether to offer encouragement, rebuke or wisdom I can add nothing to God’s word.
You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it.
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.
Want to explore more on the topic of pride? My great blogger friend, Tony Casson, recently published an excellent post titled, “Today is the day to do the right things for the right reasons.” Check it out.
4 thoughts on “Cursed Pride”
Haha I love this. Well-played!
I hesitate to tell you how good this post is, as I don’t want to trip you up as you pursue humility. So, let’s praise The Lord together for how He is using you to convey His heart to prideful beings like me. YAY, Father! Eager to hear more, Nanette.
God is first, others are second, I am third. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Thanks for acknowledging that we must be vigilant regarding humility. There’s a great prayer, The Litany of Humility (http://www.catholictradition.org/Litanies/litany55.htm), that I don’t say nearly often enough to help on this journey.