Tag Archive: pride

Whack-a-Mole in the Soul

One of the most sneaky and difficult sins to fight is pride. Fighting pride seems like playing figurative “Whack-a-Mole.” As soon as I begin to realize an area in which I am prideful, it seems as though another pokes its head up. Pride also seems to be one of the most pervasive sins; how many of us can say that on some level we know we’re at least slightly prideful? It doesn’t seem like having a slightly elevated opinion of oneself is as bad as, say, looking at pornography or murdering someone, does it? I think that looking at pride can show us a couple of things about its nature, and the nature of sin in general.

Firstly, it results from an inaccurate view of reality. I am most prideful when I am most out of touch with my actual condition. I am farthest from pride when I have my mind on what I think are the failings of others. So, fundamentally, the disconnect from reality in self perception is the cause of pride. Isn’t there almost always a difference between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us? Have you ever seen or heard yourself on camera? Isn’t that a strange and uncomfortable thing? You begin to realize the huge gap between your perception of yourself and how others see you.

Secondly, our natural, human response to pride is incomplete, often causing more sin. What I’m referring to here is playing internal “Whack-a-Mole.” We either ignore our pride, or tend to overcompensate in our personal attempts at crushing it. We take the proverbial hammer to all of our feelings of accomplishment. Have you ever wondered why it seems that so many people who struggle with pride simultaneously struggle on some level with low self-esteem? It seems strange; low self-esteem and pride seem so incompatible, yet are so often paired together. So pride, when dealt with autonomously, comes with a horrible side effect.

I think that so many sins are the same way. From the beginning, humans have tried to deal with their sin without God. Think of Adam and Eve, making their clothes of fig leaves! Our natural human response is to give special attention to the areas where we are most prideful, trying to crush it at the root. Our view of life becomes centered upon ourselves!

God brings a perfect solution for pride – himself. Think of your life. Where are you prideful? Did you get some award or some recognition for talent? Who enabled you to receive that award? Who gave you life, both spiritual and physical? Who has shown himself to be faithful in your life, giving good thing after good thing to you? When I looked at my life, God began to show me that every good thing that I have ever done was due to His good gifts. He is the one who should be proud of my achievements and inner successes, not myself.

So don’t play “Whack-a-Mole” in your soul. Just think about how good the Lord has been. Allow that reality to become your reality. Widen your view by thinking about God’s faithfulness in your life, rather than shrinking your view by focusing on your inward struggles or tying all of your successes to a proverbial rock and throwing them into the sea. You’ll find that letting God fight your pride works better than any human fix. Be proud (in a good way) of what God has done in your life.


Why Be A News Junkie?

I confess: I am a news junkie.  Google Reader is my downfall – I get local news, national news, world news, consumer news, faith news, weather news, you name it.  Some of my friends seem to appreciate this; they know they can ask me about pretty much any topic currently in the news and I’ll know about it.  Others just give me blank stares when I mention current events; then, when I explain how I know about the topic, they ask variations of “Why do you follow the news so much?”  Frustrating, yes – but why indeed?  The cop-out answer is “To be informed,” but why do I feel this need to be informed?  Does it serve a purpose or am I just trying to make myself look smart?  More importantly, is keeping up with current events a worthwhile focus for Christians?I fully admit that for me, it’s easy for pride to creep in in this area.  It makes me look intelligent and well read when I can provide some factoid in a conversation that no one else knows.  Not that providing new information is always a bad thing, but when it causes me to think that I’m somehow superior to everyone else because I knew this information and they didn’t, it becomes so.  A second source of pride, which may perhaps be more insidious, is thinking that I am somehow better than the people in the story I’m reading about.  For example, if I’m reading a story about a family being displaced from their home due to a river flooding, I have a tendency to think, “Well, that’s what they get for building a house in a flood plain.”  As soon as that happens, I forget that I’m reading about real people; rather than love them as Christ loves them, I disconnect from their pain and suffering and elevate myself.  “Then the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”  The best way I have found to combat this tendency in myself is the best way to combat any problem: prayer.  If I pray for the fictional family in this scenario rather than just be glad I’m not in their shoes, I remember that they are precious to God, and thus should be precious to me.  My cynicism doesn’t help them; my prayer does.Despite the clear danger of this type of prideful thinking, I think there is still a lot of benefit in being versed in current events.  As Christians, we are stewards of the resources God has given us; here in the United States, we have many opportunities to use those resources, wisely or otherwise.  By keeping up with the news, I can form educated opinions on which companies I will choose to spend money at.  If I find out one day that Company X is supporting a cause I believe to be harmful to society, treating its employees poorly, or taking advantage of its customers, I can make an effort to not support them because of this information.  The reverse is also true; if I find out that Company Y is supporting a cause I believe in or takes an action showing high respect for its customer base, I will be more likely to do business with them.

Another interesting result I have noticed since being in graduate school is that people are curious.  As a Christian, my perspective on some issues is quite different from that of many of my friends and coworkers.  Having conversations about various hot-button topics has enabled me to both learn from them and share my perspective (and, most importantly, the reason for that perspective).  Some great discussions have resulted from a story about a politician, or a law, or a natural disaster.

It’s not always easy for me to maintain a balance between being informed and being lost in a sea of information; in fact, if I had to guess, I would say that I take it too far about 50% of the time.  Even so, I think I’ve learned a lot about empathy, compassion, prayer, humility, and grace as a result of my mild news obsession – even though I’m actually trying to cut back, I hope I can keep learning these lessons and more in the future.