“P” is for Pride (March 14, 2012)

…Opening To…

Therefore, we pray you, Lord, forgive; so when our wanderings here shall cease, we may with you for ever live, in love and unity and peace. (Gregory the Great, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

When pride comes, so does shame, but wisdom brings humility. (Proverbs 11:2; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “P” is for pride. There are two kinds of pride, the good kind and the bad. Let me get the good kind out of the way with an illustration.

Just now, I watch a mother jogging backwards in the street outside my office. It’s an unexpectedly beautiful day here for the first half of March, and this mother is out taking advantage of it with her small son. The boy is perhaps four or five. He is wearing a helmet and riding a shiny blue bicycle with training wheels. She jogs backwards, keeping her son in front of her, as he pedals to keep up with her. He’s riding a bicycle! Perhaps he got it for his birthday or Christmas and this is the first day that’s warm enough for riding. Don’t tell me she’s not taking pride in the amazing things her son can do. This is the good kind of pride. When people use the word in this context, they are talking about the joy and contentment they feel because of the actions of another.

The bad kind of pride is wholly different and one I, personally, am quite prone to. The bad kind of pride happens when we mistakenly think that we are solely responsible for our own success. This is the pride that makes the quarterback take all the credit for the win or the kind of pride that leads to multi-million dollar bonuses for corporate executives. Or the kind that keeps us from being thankful – to God and to others.

To put it more clinically, the bad kind of pride is the spiritual disease that results in the improper attribution of giftedness. The cure is humility, which is not thinking you’re not good at things, but rather is the proper attribution of your giftedness to God’s grace and generosity.

In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the mountain of Purgatory, which ascends through the seven deadly sins, begins with pride at its base. Pride is the first and great sin, in which we separate the giver from the gift.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the giver of all good gifts. Help me to remember that you are the source of my giftedness so that I can remain in relationship with you while I use my gifts to serve you. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, counting myself blessed that you would choose to make me the person I am and love me into the person I am becoming.

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