Pride. It’s considered to be one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” for a reason. Over the past ten days I have personally witnessed pride and obsession over power and money destroy some of the relationships that are closest to me. And no, these relationships were not destroyed simply over the course of these ten days—this has been a long time coming.
Pride is not an emotion that just springs up on us overnight. It grows and festers in our hearts and minds slowly until it finally wells up so big that it trumps every other human emotion we hold dear. It clouds our vision and makes us intent on only one goal: to glorify ourselves to the fullest extent. No one else contributes to our successes, and everyone is to blame for our losses. Pride enables us to become martyrs for our own cause—everyone else is wronging us in some way; we are the only ones who know what’s best.
It’s almost as if this heightened sense of pride and egotism puts blinders on reality. I am still completely baffled as to how people who have everything they would ever need monetarily can be so completely unhappy and convinced that their lives are “awful”? And not only are they overly comfortable, living in excess wealth and an accumulation of “things”, but they are also blessed with the most amazing friends, family, and support system that they could ever ask for. And yet, they have nothing…their life is worthless.
About a week ago, one of my family members, who from the outside has everything he would ever need, told me his “life was completely awful”. At first, I was completely shocked that those words were being uttered from his mouth. AWFUL? Seriously?! WE ARE STANDING ON THE BEACHES OF HAWAII SURROUNDED BY 30+ OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND YOU ARE TELLING ME HOW HARD YOUR LIFE IS RIGHT NOW? Red flags and sirens were going off in my head like ticking time bombs. I wanted to slap him. I wanted him to shut his mouth and listen to the “adolescent 21 year old girl” standing in front of him. I may be young, but at that moment I understood the true meaning of joy in life better than the almost 50 year old man standing in front of me. But that would have done no good, so I stood there in silence. I listened to the rant that ensued for another hour of things that I and every other family member of mine did wrong on the trip and how we failed at life, and I accepted it. I say accepted it—not believed it—because I am not going to buy into false accusations stemmed from a distorted heart. My heart aches for him, mostly because part of what he said is true. His life is awful. It’s meaningless. Not because of the reasons he gave me (or for the attacks he felt he has suffered), but because he has let the Devil get a strong foothold in his life, and he is walking far from the Lord.
All this talk about pride, power, and wealth reminded me of Uzziah in 2 Chronicles. Uzziah was only sixteen when he became King of Judah. His name means “the Lord is my strength” and he ruled for 52 years. During his rule, he did right in the sight of the Lord and he brought Judah to its highest status both militarily and economically at the time. Unfortunately, Uzziah’s reign will not be most remembered for his success, but rather his downfall: his proud heart. He sinned against the Lord by entering the temple and burned incense on the alter, which violated God’s law that no king could also be a priest. He also disobeyed God’s command that the offices of priest, prophet, and king could not be combined in one man until the Messiah. With his head full of pride, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, and he became a leper until the day of his death. Sadly, his reign is most known and remembered for this sickness, rather than his accolades. “After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. -2 Chronicles 26:16
There is hope for us all, however. To say that I am not a prideful person would be a sin in itself. Pride is a facet of us all. Some struggle with it to a greater degree than others, but it is in each of us, as we are all human—all imperfect. The entire chapter of Romans 8 gives me hope and understanding. It reminds us of what we are truly living for—where our worth lies. It is not what we have on this earth that makes our lives meaningful, it is what we have to look forward to after our time on this earth is up.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” —Romans 8:9-11