Oh my goodness! Once again, the award goes to… pride! *Thuderous applause*
Pride. Buried within most sins, at their core, is pride. Buried within your heart, most likely, is pride. And yet it’s the most difficult sin to identify, the most difficult sin to root out, and the one people deny the fastest.
Pride and it’s many, many, many forms is without a doubt the sin that scripture mentions or alludes to more than any other. In simplest terms, pride is defined as a “feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements”. Wait… I’m not supposed to be satisficed with my achievements? Why is that wrong? What is it about pride then that’s so dangerous? Why does it lead us so far off course? Why is it such a destructive sin if it’s just a matter of recognizing my value and achievements?
Remember that, time and time again in scripture, we’re instructed to remember that God is the source of all good things. Those good things include whatever I use my giftedness to accomplish. So pride — true pride — is simply neglecting to direct praise to the source of whatever good thing I’m feeling satisfied about. I can accomplish something via my gifts, but God gave me those gifts. So the praise and honor should go to Him. It’s not that I can’t be thanked, or can’t be pleased with my performance, or can’t recognize that I handled something well. It’s that I can’t allow myself to forget that, without God, I would be nothing.
He created me — I am fearfully and wonderfully made by His hand — and everything I do is meant to lead people to Him. My intelligence, humor, words, actions, personality… all of these things have been granted to me so that, following the Great Commission, I might introduce people to Jesus. I haven’t been given the gifts I’ve been given to merely excel in this world. After all, I’m in the world but not of it. I’ve been given gifts to excel in my witness for Him, and my life is about learning more and more ways to use who I am to help people better see who He is.
What gets in the way of my witness? Selfishness, greed, envy, prejudice, judgement, hatred, self-righteousness, vanity, harshness, cynicism… I could go on but what do these all have in common? They sprout up out of pride.
So the next time you think I would never do what so and so did, or I would never be that weak or stupid, or I would never fall to that sin, or I’m a better Christian because fill in the blank… watch out. Pride’s got a hold of ya. And the only remedy is to remember who God is and who you are, what Jesus saved you from, what you struggle with, and what you’re called to do with the gifts the Spirit has given you. I promise you, God hasn’t made you who you are so you go around patting yourself on the back. He’s made you who you are for one reason and one reason only: so that you can lead the people only you can reach to Him.