The Poison of Pride
Currently, I am reading C.S. Lewis’ book, “Mere Christianity”. In one of the most recent chapters I read, he discussed the concept of pride. This chapter brought a lot of clarity and really woke me up (in a spiritual sense-- I went to sleep a little after reading it). Pride wasn’t a foreign concept to me, but I didn’t fully understand it.
Pride is responsible for many struggles in this life. Pride is the root of most, if not all, of our sins and leads us down a path away from God.
How do we recognize and deal with pride?
I know the struggle with pride very well, but I am not an expert on handling it efficiently. This topic has been on my heart this week; I pray that this post will bring the same clarity to you as C.S. Lewis’ chapter brought to me.
So, here are some characteristics of pride I learned this week:
1.) Pride is not of God.
This point is extremely important! Pride is the opposite of the lifestyle we are called to live.
This is stated clearly in scripture:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life--is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)
Pride is at the center of many worldly desires. With pride as our motivator, we only want what is best for us. When our hearts are consumed with pride, there isn’t room for anyone else. The world is obsessed with this “me” culture, and constantly tries to entice us with it.
However, our lifestyle is much different:
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24)
God calls us not to focus solely on ourselves, but to live in him, for him, and through him. When we are full of pride, we look to ourselves for purpose and satisfaction, but when we are focused on Jesus, we are completely satisfied in his love.
Pride is the greatest trick in this world. We think that if we search for our own happiness within ourselves and our abilities, then we will eventually be happy. This is far from true.
When we look inside ourselves, we only find emptiness, sin, and darkness. Apart from God, there is not good for God is good. Apart from God, there is no hope, peace, love, or joy because God is all of these things!
We can be full of pride and still be hungry for God’s love. It is impossible to find fulfillment within ourselves, because we will always fall short. But God’s love never fails to lead us, redeem us, and satisfy us.
2.) Pride is competitive.
When we are living in pride, we are always trying to be better than those around us. We try to do anything we can to get ahead and do what is best for ourselves. With everyone looking out for only themselves, there is no one taking the time to help or love others. Pride does not take others' feelings, needs, or wants into consideration, which is why our relationships with one another are so broken (at times).
“For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” (C.S. Lewis)
When we get sucked into what we are trying to accomplish instead of appreciating the time we get to spend with other people, we are quickly frustrated and irritated. If our competitive desires are not satisfied, our pride can quickly lead us to anger and deceit towards ourselves and others.
3.) Pride is destructive.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
Pride drives us to believe that our needs and wants are the only things that matter. This is why it is so terrible. When we believe that we are the only thing that matters, we don’t think about the lifestyle Jesus calls us to. Pride only leads to focusing on our own desires.
Pride separates us from God and his love.
There are many examples throughout the Bible where pride is the source of the problem. Pride is the reason that Eve listened to the snake and ate the apple in Genesis. It only took a split second of her thinking that she knew better than God for sin to enter the world. Pride causes us to look down on the things we can control and blinds us from the holiness of 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.” (C.S. Lewis)
Believing our will is superior to God’s is a dangerous game. If we have no regard to what God wants from us, we will be stuck living for ourselves. The sin, shame, and guilt we feel inside of ourselves goes nowhere without a Savior to redeem us.
This leads us to the big question: how do we deal with pride?
When we look to anything outside of ourselves, we are combating pride. This could look like serving those around us and showing love to our family and friends. Ultimately, when we look to God instead of ourselves, it is hard not to be humbled in his presence. Taking a few moments each day to be still in the presence of God is so refreshing. It is crucial for us to remember that God is God… and we are not.
“To love and admire anything outside of yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.” (C.S. Lewis)
Focusing on God brings so much more fulfillment than when we focus on ourselves. God gives us an abundance of grace and love that we could never find within ourselves. To set our hearts on God is to find our purpose; it is to find our home.