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And the greatest sin is... (Thoughts from "Mere Christianity")

Lewis’s title for chapter 8 reveals his seriousness toward the vice of pride: “The Great Sin”. He says pride “is the complete anti-God state of mind.” In comparison, all other sins are “mere fleabites.” Why? Perhaps because pride keeps us from knowing God. And can there be a worse fate than not knowing God?

Why else is pride so bad? It not only creates enmity between God and me, but also between you and me. To enjoy pleasure in my pride, I must rank myself higher than you—in looks or intelligence or works or power, etc. I have to be better. Doesn’t do much for a friendship, huh? Lewis says pride, at its very core, is competitive. Comparisons are what feed pride and keep it alive.

We see this competitiveness among professional sports players' salaries. It's not satisfying enough to make millions of dollars; they want to make millions + 1 more than everybody else. Not because they lack the money to do the things they want, but because they “wish to be richer than some other rich man.” So as they demand more dollars, we "normal" folk stand aghast.

But we do the same thing, just in smaller denominations. Who wants to make less than their co-worker, even if we’re already overpaid? It’s not just that we want; we want more. We compare; that’s how pride works.

In contrast, humility does not compare one against the other, but focuses on only one: the other. Lewis describes a humble man as a “cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

This chapter ends with an answer. What is the first step to acquiring humility? Realize that you are proud.

“If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” Ouch.

[Others' thoughts from Book III of “Mere Christianity”]


Laurie M. said...

Ouch indeed! Enjoyed reading your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. Very good thoughts on pride and comparing (competition) which is also an element of coveteousness. I stumbled upon your work through comments you left on Tim's site. Glad I checked you out. I also wrote some posts on humility. Feel free to check them out if you have the time. They are under the "Worm" link at the top of my welcome page.


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