The Dubious Achievement of Pride

I’ve been sitting in several meetings lately that are very one-sided when it comes to the conversation.  Some people in the group will bring up a topic, and those that are affected by the issue refuse to talk or comment on it at that time.  They feel free to talk when not confronted, but won’t if the other party demands an answer.  Not directly involved in the issue, that arrangement puts me in a strange position as both sides come to me to complain about the other.  I give a supportive ear to both groups, careful not to show any bias towards one side or the other and at times try to give guidance as to how to resolve the issue.  Unfortunately, what I’ve also observed is that the major roadblock between these people isn’t a lack of understanding or miscommunication.  It’s that both sides are filled with so much pride that it gets in the way of them actually hearing each other.  Completely inflexible, neither side will inch towards the other and both refuse to listen to the other group.  I’ve frequently heard phrases regarding how the other side needs to do something first or how the other side is refusing to understand.  Because of pride, these groups will not talk and won’t resolve anything, and until they can put aside their pride and accept humility, nothing will ever be accomplished.  There is nothing worse than pride, as it is the poison that infects and destroys everything it touches.  Pride is the killer of marriages, the demolisher of relationships, the annihilator of families, and the destructor of co-workers.  St. Augustine of Hippo, back in the 5th Century, wrote that “Pride is the commencement of all sins, because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin.”  Its power is tremendous.  When others hurt us or wrong us, we often times look to how that person has hurt our pride, quickly defaulting to being defensive instead of forgiving.  Paradoxically, we are also acutely aware of the destructive properties of pride.  So, if pride is so destructive, why is it so attractive?  Because pride is achievable, whereas humility, the opposite, is not.  It’s easy to be quickly filled with pride but not easy to be filled with humility.  Pride is easily achievable whereas humility is something to strive for but can never be achieved.  The short: pride is easy but humility is hard.  The better choice though is humility, as it looks past the words of others and sees their intent.  Pride focuses on action, whereas humility focuses on character.  As Christians, we know that we should put aside pride and forgive, but we quickly forget, adopt pride, and move to judging the other person’s actions. However, there is nothing beneficial to pride.  Proverbs 11.2 reminds us that, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Adopting humility in times of difficulty helps the problem to be solved, the relationship to be healed, and the situation to move forward.  So how can we move to humility and away from pride?  Remember Christ’s example on the cross, that even when He was whipped, scorned, and disgraced, completely persecuted by his enemies, He could have filled himself with pride and stopped everything because of who He was, condemning them for their actions.  Instead, He embraced humility and asked God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing, focusing instead on their character.  When difficulty comes our way and someone wrongs us to the point that pride starts to seep into our minds and souls, don’t ask, what would Jesus do?  Focus on the other’s character, and instead, remind yourself of what Jesus has done.  Amen.

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