Summary: A most common 'sin' often ignored or overlooked - PRIDE
Deadly Sins and Transforming Virtues Series - 3
Sometimes fables teach us best.
The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their water hole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well--so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, "Well, isn't that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?"
The frog said, "I did..."
In our series of messages about vice and virtue, I am turning our attention today to the issue of PRIDE.
As I speak this morning, it is quite likely that some of you will be wondering exactly why what I am talking about this as a ‘vice.’
Pride stands unique among the other ‘sins’ we will talk about, sanitized and even sought after, in all but the most flamboyant displays. We have developed a whole new language to talk about what was once spoken of as pride. We talk of the need for ‘self-esteem’ and many of us are completely convinced that the real problem with humanity is not a ‘fallen, sinful nature,’ but a lack of self-love.
30 years ago a renowned preacher in America tapped into a longing for a “Christianity” that fit more comfortably into the American ideals of self-sufficiency, opportunity, and prosperity. Robert Schuller recast what the Bible said about all of us being born into sin, saved only by a divine intervention by Christ and the Holy Spirit. Instead he said that “health and wholeness to a person mean having positive “self-esteem,” “or self-worth.” Jesus came, Schuller taught, to give us back our Self! He led one of the earliest of the mega-churches in our nation, a place where sin was seldom, if ever, mentioned, where God’s love meant that you were important and you could love yourself! That church imploded when his children fought over who would lead it and it went bankrupt a few years ago.
Pride, no matter the language we use about it, remains one of the ways that we sin and miss out on God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Jesus bluntly said, “No one can serve two masters.” We cannot serve our Self and be a servant of God at the same time!
And yet, we do know that being aware that God made us people of worth, so much so that Jesus came to save us, can be a really good thing! Was it not a growing sense of self-worth that led to the civil rights movement? Who believes that Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, who helped black Americans find their voice and whose leadership forced the government to pass civil rights legislation that protected a people who were ignored, oppressed, and refused equal opportunity for so long did a bad thing?
But, that same impulse that led to good is so quickly turned into something ugly, an expression of power and selfishness. In 2018, America is divided into groups who are defined by some sense of identity, some good, some bad, who are all insisting that they must be heard, that their grievances must be addressed.
And there you have the difficulty with pride!
A broken young man entered a school building with his rifle on Wednesday afternoon, and in a horribly twisted expression of Self and Pride, thought so little of others that he took their lives and seemingly, to all reports, with no remorse or empathy. Sin, for reasons we do not know, morphed into terrible evil, and 17 people died. An extreme example? Of course, but he is not alone in letting selfishness become more than rudeness, turning into destructive and deadly evil!
I hope you won’t hear this message today and hope that some other person - who is selfish, who takes advantage of others, who uses his power to oppress others believing himself better - is listening while failing to understand that pride is the basic root of sin in each and every one of us.
For many of us, pride will more benign, but never the less growing from the same root, which is Self.
Where pride exists there is a desire to escape our sense of being small, insignificant, or overlooked. We do it by achievement, by wearing recognizable name brands, adopting current fashion dictates, being fans of sports teams, etc. Are those sins? That is a hard judgment, but I can confidently say that when fashion, achievement, recognition, popularity, sport - - whatever it may be – starts to own us and drive us - we have allowed pride to morph into the sin of idolatry - having made ourselves a little god.