Guide to Goodness

Winning the Spiritual Battle of Pride with Humility

Last Sunday, we looked at the role sin and vice play in diverting us from living the good life.  We live a good life when we live a virtuous life with God, giving ourselves over to His goodness, and when we understand that we are promised protection from a life of disease and our ultimate enemy, which is sin and death. Grasping this truth changes the way we live and experience God’s love.  We see that we have the divine within us, we are saints, and we are holy.  But it is through our thoughts and actions that we become sinners.  This is the spiritual battle we face each day. With intentionality, effort, and a pure heart, we will prevail!

“Actual sin has one source, two roots, three incentives, and seven heads: the capital sins. The one source is pride, of which it is written: pride is the beginning of all sin. The two roots are fear that unduly restrains, and love that unduly inflames. The three incentives are the three worldly temptations: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Finally, the seven heads are: pride, envy, anger, sloth, covetousness, gluttony, and lust. Among these, the first five are sins of the spirit, the last two, sins of the flesh.” St Bonaventure, The Breviloquium

Today we will look at the first deadly sin, pride, and learn about the cure for this disease which is humility.  You will find a full list of the seven deadly sins and corresponding cures at the end of this post.

What is pride?

Pride is loving and esteeming oneself above others and above God, which is the root of all other sin.  It is a deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom we are closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.  Pride is an inflated sense of our accomplishments, a state of being proud and having inordinate self-esteem.

St. Isidore of Seville said, “A man is said to be proud, because he wishes to appear above what he really is.”  This is profound and is what Bishop Barron talks about when he contrasts living an ego-drama life where we draw our basic energies from our ego versus living a Theo-Drama when we draw our energies from something beyond ourselves, from God.  When we are living an ego-drama, we are easily and often discouraged, angry, and depressed.  In the Theo-Drama, the highs and lows of life don’t affect us so deeply.  We find meaning beyond the fluctuation of our own egos.

To me, this is step two in any twelve-step recovery program.  Surrendering and “coming to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.”  For many years, my disordered ego told me that I was in control, and I was in charge.  If I just worked or tried harder, I would hold my world together and in balance.  All I was doing was becoming less integrated body, mind, and spirit living in a false reality that kept crushing my spirit.  What a gift it has been to live in the Theo-Drama, understanding and practicing humility which allows me to reconnect my head, heart, and body. 

What are some of the effects of pride?

  • Self-love of pride directly opposes the need to submit to God.
  • Every sin has some element of pride, making it the greatest of all sins.
  • Pride is expressed in superiority, self-centeredness, self-will, self-delusion, and even self-pity.
  • Pride denies that our blessings come from God.
  • Pride can destroy all good works and virtues.
  • Hatred of God comes from pride. “It was Pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” – St. Augustine.
  • Pride is the queen of sin and opens the heart to so many other sins.

How can I identify pride within me?

  • Disobedience – A failure or refusal to obey authority.
  • Boastfulness – Showing excessive pride.
  • Hypocrisy – Not conforming to one’s own standards.
  • Contention – Always picking fights or having heated disagreements.
  • Obstinacy – An attitude of stubbornness.
  • Discord – A lack of harmony.
  • Love of novelties to excess – Being overly concerned with fashion, technology, or stuff.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  

Proverbs 16:18

Swap pride with Humility.

Humility or selflessness is recognizing that my skills, talents, and good qualities are gifts from God.  I hold a modest view of my own importance.  We can all use some self-improvement in this area as it is a part of the human condition.

  • Be humble, recognizing you need God and other people.
  • Pray for humility.
  • Deny yourself.
  • Be patient.
  • Be modest.  Don’t boast, flaunt, act superior.
  • Be sympathetic and charitable.  Serve others.

The practice of humility overcomes the sin of pride.Remember, God humbles the proud and exalts the humble.  Pride is the devil’s sin, and Satan wants us to hold ourselves up as gods.  When we acknowledge that everything we have is from God, and everything we do is derived from the gifts He has given us, we turn outside ourselves.  We bring to others the love and peace of Christ that is within our hearts.  We lift those around is in love and goodness. 

May we be Smitten with Humility,

Cynthia

The SinWhat does it mean?What does God Say?Swap the Sin with VirtueWhat can I do?
Pride Loving and esteeming oneself above others and above God; the root of all other sin.“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).Humility or Selflessness. recognizing that skills, talents, and all good qualities are gifts from God.Be humble. You need God and others. Pray and serve.
Envy Resenting others for their possessions or gifts. Jealousy towards another’s happiness.“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).Kindness. Wishing the best for others; brotherly love.Be thankful. Thank God every day for what you have and don’t have.
Anger Acting in hostility or desiring revenge. Uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath.“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).Meekness. Acting with patience, mercy and charity when resolving conflicts.Be patient. Moderate your emotions, take deep breaths before reacting.
SlothDenying God’s will for the sake of comfort; avoiding physical or spiritual work. Laziness, lack of effort. “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19).Diligence. Following God’s will, even if it means sacrificing comfort. Be diligent. Have a schedule, don’t let your life revolve around resting and comfort.
Greed Desiring material things to excess, placing too much importance on possessions. “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19).Generosity. Giving of time, talents, and gifts freely; realizing that no material thing is more important than God.Be generous. Donate something you like but don’t need to the poor.
GluttonyConsuming to an unhealthy excess. To over-indulge, especially in food and alcohol.“For drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (Proverbs 23:21).Temperance. Taking all things in moderation and to the point of goodnessBe moderate. Exercise regularly, avoid excess in eating and drinking.
LustConsidering others as mere objects of sexual desire.  “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).Chastity. Properly ordering physical appetites to one’s vocation.Be pure. Guard your heart. Give yourself a project, exercise when you are bored. 

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