January 6, 2014.
Today is the first day of classes at UTC and with it brings so many people that I love back together once again. It’s good to be back. This semester I want to make some changes in the relationships I have with friends and acquaintances; not because they have been bad in the past, but because I know they can be better. This year, I want to be more of a servant- more of a help to those in need. Over the past summer I got very cynical of people and their intentions and I believe that bled over into last semester. This semester I want see the best in people, even when their intentions seem less than favorable.
What makes this so hard? For so many of us, regardless of whether we would like to admit it, it is pride. Pride is one of those sins that is so evil, yet so hard to detect in yourself. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, brings up some really good points about pride as he points to it being one of the most deadly of all sins. I don’t think he is too far off. Pride is listed as the first of the “seven cardinal sins” in the book of Proverbs:
“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.”
I don’t think it is an accident that pride is first. Many of our sins stem from pride. It is the gateway into the world of flesh, and it is so terribly difficult to fight against. We all want to be noticed in some way or another. We all want things to go exactly the way we think they should. And, believe it or not, we all think we are right at all times (even when you realize you are wrong, at that moment you think you now have the right idea). Though these are sweeping generalizations, there is still a lot of truth to them.
So what does pride have to do with relationships? Our pride gets in the way of our relationships all too often. There have been many times in my life where I have put down someone verbally in effort to advance my place. Pride. I have not done something to help a friend because I felt that they didn’t work as hard as me. Pride. I have purposely not congratulated (genuinely) friends for accomplishments that I was unable to obtain. Pride. It seems almost unavoidable; yet it is detrimental to our relationships. I believe that pride is the underlying cause of nearly all church divisions. This is what I see Paul vividly warning about in his first epistle to the Corinthian church:
“When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!”
(1 Cor. 6:1-8)
The entire epistle has an over arching theme: stop dividing. Stop fighting, stop quarreling and stop arguing. We are all sons and daughters of the Most High. Bickering only serves to sever relationships. And at the heart of most bickering is pride. Until we learn to take ourselves out of the picture (which, by the way, I am not good at), our relationships will always suffer in some way. It is my prayer that we can overcome the sin of pride. The disciples warn against pride over and over.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
(1 John 2:15-17)
The suggested daily reading today will take you through a story of a good relationship destroyed by pride. King Saul and David. I encourage you to read the story and see how much power pride has over mankind to shape and transform our very heart and actions. Will you join me as I set out on this path to selflessness? I cannot promise perfection, as we are all human, but I can promise a pursuit of perfection, which I think we are all called to do as Christians. May our words and thoughts be seasoned with salt, and may the Lord bless our relationships.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Samuel 16-20
Grace and Peace be to you.