BY REV. CLINT LOVEALL - SPIRIT LAKE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
'Christ will not paint on a proud canvas.' - Pastor Jason Meyer
CS Lewis referred to pride as “the great sin.” By that he meant that not only is pride itself a danger to the Christian heart, pride most often gives birth to a whole family of other sins as well. The Bible claims in Proverbs that “pride goes before the fall,” and in his book “Ego is the Enemy,” Ryan Holiday writes, “Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you; your ego.”
Pride is an interesting thing. To take pride in how you do things, to be proud of the accomplishments of others and to celebrate a job done well are good things. On the other hand, pride is the shortest path to arrogance, and an unchecked ego is a danger to self and a burden for others. Pride gives us the firm sense that we deserve more, that we are better than, that we are of more worth, than others. Pride makes us prickly and sensitive and convinced we are always the unfairly treated victim.
Make no mistake, God is no fan of arrogance. God hates false ego and swollen pride. God condemns human arrogance and threatens humiliation for those who are esteemed in their own eyes. The human heart filled with self-importance has no room left in it for Christ. The blessings of self-awareness and gentle humility simply can’t find a place in a life overrun with ego.
What are the struggles of the proud heart? Unfortunately I know them well. The unchecked ego cannot admit being wrong, cannot apologize and cannot let others disagree. The arrogant self compares itself to others constantly and, expectedly, others always fall short. The proud one wants awards and accolades, even when they may be undeserved, and is obsessed with getting credit and being recognized. Ego can’t celebrate the success of others and takes every disagreement as a personal offense.
Biblically speaking, the cure for pride is humility, which literally means to lower one’s self. Pastor Rick Warren once helpfully said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Humility is the byproduct of confession and the recognition of both our need to be forgiven and our temptation to forget that. For the believer, humility is born the moment we stop comparing ourselves to others and instead look to Christ, simultaneously acknowledging how far short we fall and then joyfully receiving the grace that stops keeping score altogether.
“Christ will not paint on a proud canvas.” What a great reminder that if we follow Christ, our hearts are to be humble before God and others. When we give up ego, we find Jesus, and gratitude drives out pride. So many of the hurtful conflicts of our world, our churches and our lives would be immensely helped if we let go of some of our arrogant pride and learned to think more of others and less often, of ourselves.