Summary: This series is a study of the seven deadly sins contrasted with solutions found in the Beatitudes from Matthew 5. This second sermon uses the popular stories of the Prodigal Son and the Rich Man and Lazarus to contrast being proud against being poor in sp
Pride and the Poor in Spirit
Seven Sins and Solutions
THE STORY IS TOLD OF A MAN WHO HAD A DREAM IN WHICH AN ANGEL showed him two doors — one marked Heaven and the other Hell. Curious, the man went to the door marked Hell. Inside he saw an unhappy sight. Twelve emaciated people sat around a cauldron of steaming hot soup. Beside them were large spoons — too large, in fact. The spoons required both arms and all one’s might to lift and place in the cauldron. Many were able to get food on the end, but the weight of the spoons caused them to tip over as the people brought the food to their lips. Those in hell were never able to eat from the deep cauldrons. The spoons were too long, too heavy. “Most in hell,” the angel explained, “have spent long hours trying to feed themselves but have failed again and again.” The dreamer watched them staring, starving, and he recoiled from hell’s doorway. These people have no hope, he thought. It seemed that God was mocking them. “It is torture,” he said to the angel, “to have what you desire sitting before you yet be unable to have even a taste!”
Turning, he opened the door marked Heaven. Inside he saw twelve people sitting around a deep cauldron of soup, with spoons too large to lift to their lips. The room was the same as the one in hell — the same light, the same size — but in this room there was a joy unlike anything the man had ever seen. He and the angel were caught up in the laughter. There was even singing, and the celebrated for long hours as the soup sat boiling before them.
Leaving, the man was puzzled by the contrast between the two rooms. One so filled with joy and the other a prison of misery. Certainly those in heaven were in denial. Perhaps they had grown content with want. Looking at the angel, the dreamer asked why those in heaven were happy while those in hell were not. “Those in heaven have learned to feed each other,” said the angel.
Privacy + Time = Destruction
Hell is ultimate privacy and time. Whereas the kingdom of heaven is communal and bent toward the service of others, the attitude of hell assumes everything exists for me — to serve me, benefit me — because I am that significant.
When all people everywhere stop serving one another and begin groping for what is “rightfully theirs,” this inward focus becomes deadly.
The ancients called this attitude of persistent self-focus… pride, and when pride takes hold of a culture, everyone starves. Pride is the natural love for myself magnified and perverted into disdain for others. Augustine called pride the foundation of sin.
The hell-bound do not travel downward; they travel inward, cocooning themselves behind a mass of vanity, personal rights, religiosity, and defensiveness.
Pride destroys our ability to connect with others
"The Great divorce" C.S. Lewis
At the bus stop at the beginning of the book. One of the first things he notices is how empty the town looks. Here he’s talking to someone else on the bus who explains why.
"It seems the deuce of a town," I volunteered, "and that's what I can't understand. The parts of it that I saw were so empty. Was there once a much larger population?"
"Not at all," said my neighbor. "The trouble is that they're so quarrelsome. As soon as anyone arrives he settles in some street. Before he's been there twenty-four hours he quarrels with his neighbor. Before the week is over he's quarreled so badly that he decides to move. Very like he finds the next street empty because all the people there have quarreled with their neighbors-and moved. So he settles in. If by any chance the street is full, he goes further. But even if he stays, it makes no odds. He's sure to have another quarrel pretty soon and then he'll move on again. Finally he'll move right out to the edge of the town and build a new house. You see, it's easy here. You've only got to think a house and there it is. That's how the town keeps on growing." "Leaving more and more empty streets?" "That's right. And time's sort of odd here. That place where we caught the bus is thousands of miles from the Civic Centre where all the newcomers arrive from earth. All the people you've met were living near the bus stop: but they'd taken centuries-of our time-to get there, by gradual removals."
"And what about the earlier arrivals? I mean -there must be people who came from earth to your town even longer ago."
"That's right. There are. They've been moving on and on. Getting further apart. They're so far off by now that they could never think of coming to the bus stop at all. Astronomical distances.