In Stronghold, I wrote about slaying lust, but I didn’t touch on pride. Frankly, I don’t even want to consider it. Fighting pride in my soul…I don’t even know where I’d begin. I suppose I would start with me (how appropriate). Perhaps the battle would be just the two of us–the Old Self that clings to life in the soul despite the ground that the Holy Spirit gains through sanctification versus the New Self that craves said sanctification like water. Maybe that old C.J. is a saboteur or a lone terrorist burning the fields of peace or laying desolation to cities of solitude. Then again, were I to write that book, I don’t know how I would end it (and I won’t compare it to Stronghold, for I don’t want to spoil that climax for anyone who has not read it).
Pride is a funny thing. In alot of ways, the very attitude that one is not proud is an indicator one may in fact be–and to a degree far greater than he/she expected. In my own life I have found that moderate success inevitably lends itself to pride’s finding a foothold, one that I have to intentionally engage and subvert before it grows any larger. But the sinful seed is almost always the same: if I stop one bad behavior, I have a certain edge about those who have not; or if I develop some good habit, I wonder what is stopping another from doing the same. It’s a disgusting aspect of my personhood and a shameful part of my life.
But this is also another area in which Christ’s patience and mercy show themselves most clearly to me. When I consider the narcissistic, self-righteousness, egregious attitudes that I carry, I cannot help but think of how undeserving I am of the salvation I have been given; and I must accept the reality that the only reason I have any virtue or accomplishment is because of God’s allowing it and his grace in working with my sordid, stubborn heart.
And is that not the rub of it all, really? That we best combat our pride by focusing on Christ–not on self-abasement or false modesty or deceiving ourselves but focusing on him, on whom he is. We counter pride not by improvement of self but loss of self in light of someone better–our Lord and Savior, who is indeed the very best of all beings. Pride cannot stand in light of the truth of who Christ is, what he says, and how he lived, for no one can compare to him.
The Lord hates “haughty eyes“; he requires us to “walk humbly” before him. What better way to do this than to lose sight of ourselves in view of who Christ is, to think on Jesus and of the Lord more than our future, to love God and his kingdom more than our mortal lives here. And the very best part of doing this is that as we better know and understand Christ, the better our lives in fact become–their interior and exterior quality improves exponentially. Such blessing is not to be taken lightly, nor is the sin of our pride.
Please join me in fighting it, inside yourself, by looking to Christ (this is the season in which we celebrate his birth, after all).
Thanks for reading,