Summary: Pride is the first of the 7 deadly sins. It is insidious. It is also often recognized as being present alongside the other 6 sins. We’ll look at what makes this so dangerous.
April 13, 2008
Pride is the first of the seven deadly sins. Many preachers and theologians have noted that pride is perhaps the one deadly sin that connects all the other deadly sins together. It acts like the nervous system. It feeds the other sins. It helps one engage not just one but often the others. Even though the love of money is the root of all evil, pride is the source of the love of money.
Pride is insidious. It gets in you and works on you. It sneaks up on you especially when you are at your best. It makes the worst out of the best. It is no wonder that one of the nuggets of wisdom found in Proverbs (16:18) says that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Pride tells us that we’re not wrong. Pride keeps us in denial. Pride keeps us from admitting when we have made a mistake. It keeps us from admitting that we’ve sinned.
This is a picture of Johnny. Johnny’s mother saw him playing church with the family cat. The cat was sitting there quietly while Johnny preached his sermon to the cat.
Johnny’s mother smiled and went back to her work. A little while later, she heard a huge commotion where Johnny was supposed to be playing. She heard the cat meowing and hissing. Obviously something was dreadfully wrong and she rushed to the door and looked out to see Johnny shoving the cat into a tub of water.
“What are you doing to the poor cat?” yelled his mother.
“I’m trying to baptize the stupid thing,” Johnny yelled back.
“You can’t do that to a cat. It’s afraid of water.”
“He should have thought of that before he joined my church.”
I did a quick search for the word “pride” in the bible. I found 63 references, mostly in the Old Testament, with the word pride in it. Usually, the word was used in a negative sense to show sinful attitudes except when you get to the Paul in the New Testament, he starts to use it as something positive but only in terms of taking pride in the spiritual progress.
For example, in Galatians 6:4 “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.”
So here is the first thing on pride:
There is destructive pride and healthy pride.
One can take pride in others. One can soberly examine oneself (with the help of God) and realistically determine one’s spiritual progress. This is not something we have done on our own but have sense of pride that God has done this for me and through me. Or in the sense of others, take pride in what God has done in them.
This is more in line with what we might call self-esteem. Some people believe that we ought to look at ourselves at worthless worms. We are lower than dirt. Yes, we are depraved but we have also been made in the image (the word is eikon) of God. Sin destroys that but grace restores us.
Some think that having a healthy self-esteem is sinful. It is pride full. That is wrong and not biblical. In fact, I would contend that constantly degrading oneself is a form of pride.
Let me show you. If I walk up to you and say, “I’m awful. I can’t do anything right. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I might as well be dead because no one should care about something so worthless as me.”
The most natural, immediate response of most people is… “No, that’s not right. You’re a good person.” We try to convince them that they are wrong. This is all a prideful scam. The person really wants you to know how great they are.
Another possibility is that they really do believe that. Then there is a sort of pride in the fact that you are not full of pride. And that is the second thing.
Pride can be a paradox.
Whenever we start to compare ourselves to others, we are entering dangerous territory.
There was a tax collector who went to worship. He admitted how bad he had been. He admitted his depravity and his sin. Meanwhile, a Pharisee was also worshipping and seeing the tax collector praised God by telling God that he was so glad that he was not like that tax collector piece of garbage.
Of course as soon as we read the story as say, “I’m glad that I’m not like that Pharisee.” We have just entered the pride paradox.
This is why Jesus tells us to be careful about judging others. Get the log out of your own eye. Judge yourself. Then you might recognize the incredible grace that God has shown you and can look at your brother or sister not to judge and condemn but to seriously try to help them.