You often hear reference to the seven deadly sins, sometimes also called the capital vices or cardinal sins. The entries that make this list are obviously those that underscore the fallen nature of humanity. They are the darkest, most serious sins on the Christian rankings of soul blackening darkness. This dubious roll includes: wrath, greed, sloth, lust, envy, gluttony, and pride. Today I want to focus on the final entry in this list, namely pride. Pride is something that I have battled with over the years. It is something that even today, I have not fully come to grips with. Before we can understand why this makes the honor roll of sins, we need to understand what pride is and what, in a sense, it is not. Let's consider two definitions of this term.
1). Pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself.
2). A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing or conduct.
If you read these defintions carefully, you can see that they go down paths in two very different directions. On the one hand it is perfectly acceptable to feel pleasure and satisfaction at a job that you have completed and completed well after investing a large amount of energy, time, or money. This can be a project at work, a sizeable task that you have undertaken at home, raising your child, or keeping your marriage burning bright through the years. This sense of pride blossoms out of love and the satisfaction of guiding a sizeable effort through to fruition. It does not involve smugness or mean-spirited bragging or making a public spectacle of oneself. It is a pride that you share in love with family, friends, and in celebration with God.
The second type of pride is the problem. It involves self-promotion, it involves letting everyone know how superior we are, it involves building ourselves up for the sole purpose of squashing everyone down beneath our boot. It is about taking all of the credit for every aspect of the work without recognizing others that contributed or the true source of your skills or your money.
For years I have battled with the latter type of pride. So much of my self-worth was tied up in my ability to out-work and out-success my peers, that often I lost sight of why I wanted to do the work in the first place. It was all an attempt to get people to laud me and my skills and my cleverness. I have gotten better over the years as I have been able to put many things into perspective. Now I celebrate the first type of pride much more often than the second type. Now that is something to take a bit of pride in with some quiet celebration during my devotional time.