I am reading (and preaching) in the Book of Proverbs this month. A chapter a day and a sermon a week makes one…, well, let’s just say it has been good for me. Each day a proverb or two bubbles up in my mind sticking with me.
Proverbs 16:18 reads, “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.”
This verse hounded me most of the week, chasing me to a dog-eared page in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I’ve included a healthy portion of it here. Read it carefully, and as my dad is fond of saying, “Ruminate” on it.
There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others.
There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.
And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.
The vice I am talking of is pride or self-conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called humility.
The utmost evil is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites 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.
Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?” The point it that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride.
It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise.
Now what you want to get clear is that pride…is competitive by its very nature…
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. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.
For, of course, power is what pride really enjoys… If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy.
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. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity—that is, by Pride.
The devil laughs.
He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.
WOW…everday wisdom for everyday living. Good words for me…how ’bout you?