Charlie's Blog: Pride

10.13.2014

Pride


How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!
ISAIAH 14:12 NAS

Pride is considered the deadliest of the sins. It was the primary sin as the Fall began when Satan declared to God that he would not serve. Everyone else ratifies the decision when they also declare that they will not serve. This would be the vast majority of the human race.

There are many definitions of pride, but I prefer this definition. Pride is to be blind to who you really are. Pride is essentially a self-delusion. I know this because of a proud person that I know. He is vain in many ways, yet it doesn't keep him from making a complete ass out of himself. The reality is that we are all mirrors of Christ. Some mirrors reflect better than others while other mirrors have some dirt on them. Pride is when the mirror is pointed entirely away from Christ. It doesn't matter how clean or dirty the mirror may be. The mirror is only beautiful when it reflects Christ. Satan may have been the son of the dawn, but he is now just an evil son of a bitch.

We have no goodness of our own but must derive it entirely from Christ. We live in a time of self-improvement and navel gazing. Our eyes are always on ourselves. We always seek our own magnificence. And all of it is vanity and futility.


The Cult of Self-Improvement is basically about doing two things. The first is making lots of money. The second is looking good while making it. This is Pride, and the end result of all this pride is that all of these people end up looking like silly clowns. This is not true self-improvement. This is self-worship. Vanity is the path to being utterly ridiculous.

True self-improvement comes when we try to become the best version of ourselves. We achieve this when we become more like Christ. The saints give us examples of this transformation. This is the path of humility. People don't like humility. This is because it involves debasement and humiliation. The ironic thing about being humble is that it restores our dignity. Jesus gives this parable about the paradoxical nature of humility:
And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them,  “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
LUKE 14:7-11 NAS
Humility is the way to go. You can't lose. I remember watching a video with Bill Gates where he admitted that he wore a $10 wristwatch. Now, I know guys who spend considerable dollars to have fancy looking watches that give off an air of sophistication and status. But Bill Gates with his cheap plastic watch is still the richest man in the world. The fact that he wore something cheap made me actually admire the guy.

Humility is not the quality of hating yourself so much as forgetting yourself. If you focus on being humble, even that can become a vanity.  This is why we shouldn't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Basically, we should just do good, and the only introspection we should have should be a daily examination of conscience. When we look in the mirror of ourselves, we should focus on cleaning away everything that does not reflect the image of Christ.

In my own life, I confess to being proud and arrogant. I remember as a proud atheist being invited to attend a musical event at a local evangelical church. I went to mock it, but I left chastened. These church going rubes were idiots as far as I was concerned. But they were sincere in their faith. I could have chosen to be a complete jerk at that moment, but I didn't. I remember one of the congregants gave me a pin with a red button glued to it. He called it a "blood of Jesus" pin. I thought it was stupid, but I put it on. I don't know why, but I wore it. I still have it today. It means a great deal to me. I was still an atheist when I left that place, but I could not be a proud atheist. I had mocked religious people before, but I couldn't do it anymore. It was evil, and I knew it. To repay evil for good is always a sin no matter what religion or lack of religion you follow.

I am on the other side now, and I remember being mocked pretty severely by my former atheist allies. I took a lot of abuse, but it only made me ask myself one question. Was I like these ugly people who now insult me? The answer is yes. I was one of those people ugly in their pride. I remember going to atheist meetings, and they seemed joined in nothing more common than making sport of the religious. One fellow would smirk in his "brilliance," and all I could reflect on was his polyamorous wife who would follow her atheist ethics to sleep with whomever she chose. For a smart group of people, they now look very dumb to me.

If you want to look foolish, be proud. Pride and folly go hand in hand. But if you want true wisdom and true greatness, be as humble as the dust. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and I know this to be very true. My own conversion to Catholicism would come as I admired someone very humble. God loves the humble and lavishes on them His greatest gifts. As for the proud, they are frustrated and humiliated at every turn. They triumph for a season but end in everlasting defeat. Pride is death. Humble yourself.