Pride: The Gateway Sin

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. – Prov. 11:2

Ever notice that in the dubious list of Seven Deadly Sins, Pride is always listed first. Of course it is. Pride would be proud of that.

Derived in a roundabout way from Prov. 6:16-19, the sins are: pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth, and greed.

The Canterbury Tales says pride is the root of all the others, the general root of all harms, and the trunk from which other sins branch.

I would say that Pride is the gateway sin leading eventually to all the others. No sin stands alone, rather – they are all intertwined.  Pride, though, would be the mother of them all.

Pride is “an inordinate self-esteem.” Synonyms like vanity, conceit, arrogance, cockiness, know-it-all, and puffed up come to mind.

I have always struggled with pride and the selfish tendency to make it “all about me.” My wife has helped me greatly with this inclination over the years. When we first met, I wasn’t even aware I was doing this until she pointed out. I had the terrible habit of steering every conversation back to myself or only talking about my interests. Is it not annoying to be around someone who cannot start a conversation without using “I”? Well, sorry – that was me. And I still fight that urge.

At its root, it is self-worship. It is also insensitive to others around me; it signals that they are not as important as me or my life.

Reflecting upon the cure, I am indebted to God’s Grace on my pride.

First, God has given me the perfect help meet: my wife. God has provided a partner for me that is not afraid to point out flaws in order to help me objectively look at myself. This has both been helpful and… painful.

My wife’s honesty to make me really look in the mirror and see where the logs lie has been a great blessing in my life.

Pride leads to loneliness. As self-worship, Pride is filling our hearts with ourselves. If we fill our hearts with ourselves, then there is no room for anyone or anything else and thereby, we become more and more alone.

This could be anyone’s future who does not confront Pride before it is too late: relationships will atrophy.

Secondly, God’s grace on my pride has been to lead me to Scripture. Passages such as Gal. 6:3-4 or Prov. 11:2, 21:4 have served me well. God’s word is truly that which can cut to the heart. It is the scalpel God uses to remove the cancer.

I am forever indebted and wedded to God’s wondrous Scripture.

Lastly, the love of God is primary for me in this issue of my sinful nature. Without the love of God, I would not be able to even see this fatal flaw, let alone extract it from my life. God’s continual forgiveness, long-suffering, and patience with this chief sinner has been something that has tremendously humbled me.

God’s love is also the gold standard for me to emulate in my ministry and personal life. It is my duty and great honor to represent my King. How could I properly do that without exhibiting His same manner of love?

I want to end with balancing the Seven Deadly Sins with a second, more righteous list: the Seven Cardinal Virtues; wisdom, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and love.

I refuse to be an instrument for the Devil and to allow him to use my unresolved pride against myself, my family, or my ministry.

Anger: Pregnant Nostrils

“A fool gives full vent to anger” – Prov. 29:6-11

Anger is a fool’s response.

There are two Hebrew words for anger: one is to have “pregnant nostrils” and the other means “to burn, grow hot.” Ever seen someone so upset they have pregnant nostrils? Yeah, not pretty.

When someone is mad, we say they are boiling mad, red with anger, hotheaded, or has a flaming temper.

Pixar’s Inside Out depicted the character Anger as this red man whose head would literally burst into flames when upset.

It’s like a powder-keg just waiting for the tiniest spark to set off a huge explosion.

I struggle with anger.

According to Maxie Dunnam, their are two types: Blazing (represented as a powder-keg) and Brooding (represented as a Crock-Pot). I identify with the brooding type. I am quick to hold grudges, be bitter or resentful, and to be hyper-critical.

Anger and pride are intrinsically linked: Upset my pride? Wound my ego? Anger is the result.

Because of my ingrained pride, I am more likely to be short-tempered and impatient. This leads to a brewing anger that permeates everything. Unchecked, this could lead to a volcanic eruption.

Reflecting upon the cure – God’s Grace on my anger:

First, God loves me in spite of myself. That doesn’t mean God gives me a blank check to do whatever I well please. God’s loving grace on my anger has been to point me to models of peace – like my mother, who is a peacemaker and my mother-in-law, who makes sure everyone’s needs are met. Of course, my perfect example is Jesus Christ. Who else to turn to for humble and meek peace?

Anger can be directed at God or at Self; I find my anger is at myself, not God. I am very hard on myself and therefore can be self-loathing. Anger is tricky like that. Regardless, to be angry with God OR Self is a sign of bondage.

Anger makes room for the devil.

Secondly, the saying goes: the size of a man can be measured by the size of the thing that makes him angry.

What makes me angry? What are my triggers? What sets me off?

I need to learn to understand my anger. I also need to express my anger in nondestructive and non-sinful ways.

Only by God’s grace!

James 1:19 is a life verse. My anger is not going to result in God’s righteousness. I cannot be an angry man and a man of God at the same time. Olsson gives us the imagery likening someone trying to do things on their own strength to burning wet garbage; it only creates suffocating smoke.

It will take Divine Intervention.

Lastly, the image a ticking timebomb has been on my mind over these last few weeks.

What happens when something explodes? It destroys whatever is around it. No life is ever brought from an explosion; only carnage.

Or the Crock-pot: it seethes and smolders. It’s repressed, resentful, and bitter. It re-hashes real and imagined wrongs. What a mess.

Do I really want to be like that? People tip-toeing around me?

I do not want to have pregnant nostrils!

I have full faith and confidence that God’s grace and love will calm the waters and lower the temperature. What is my anger telling me about myself and what is going on in my life?

I refuse to be an instrument for the devil and to allow him to use my anger against me, my family, or my ministry.

Insights from Proverbs 6

hot coals

Insights from Proverbs 6 for the 6th:

Verses 16-19 is where we get the “7 Deadly Sins” (Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, & Sloth). Although that exact phrase is not specifically used (it was actually coined by a 4th Century monk) and those specific sins are not exactly listed, here is where the basic idea comes from.

There are 6 things the Lord hates, 7 that He detests:

  • haughty eyes (arrogance)
  • a lying tongue
  • hands that shed innocent blood
  • a heart that devises wicked schemes
  • feet that are quick to rush into evil
  • a false witness who pours out lies
  • and a person who stirs up conflict in the community

“Detests” is a pretty serious word choice: He abhors them. What do you think? Maybe write these down and avoid them.

Solomon bookends these abominations with warnings against Folly & even more warnings against Adultery: these are 2 recurring snares when it comes to humanity. Could it be that he’s trying to tell us something?

He gives some absurd examples: If you put flames on your lap, don’t be surprised when your pants are on fire. If you walk across hot coals, don’t be surprised when your feet get scorched. The same goes with sleeping with another’s spouse; there are going to be consequences and they are going to hurt.

Jealousy makes everyone crazy. When they find out about the affair: they’re gonna flip out. Nothing will stop them.

Common sense, right? Solomon says the one who commits adultery has no sense.

I’ve heard the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. The most common reason is infidelity. I’m not sure if that stat is true, but I do know that this is true: marriage is under attack! The enemy wants us to believe that marriage isn’t important, its not sacred, and we don’t need to be good stewards of the family God has entrusted to us.

The opposite is actually true! Husbands, keep your marriage sacred! Protect it! Be ever-diligent!

The enemy is setting specially-designed traps just for you and me.

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