Among the enemies of grace, human pride hides deepest in our souls. In grace, the Spirit comes with a pickaxe of discovery, unearthing vanity’s vein that runs hidden within. Grace exposes our desire to sit on the throne of our own vainglorious private kingdom. We think grace will expose us as frauds, when all the while grace wants to invite us to a forever feast.
Pride has a thousand faces but always the same dreary aim: to make more of ourselves and less of God. Pride is the leaven of the Pharisees; it masquerades as humility; and like a miser it hoards the grace of God. Let us attend:
Four times the scripture teaches us, “God resists the proud but give grace to the humble.” Pride itself has read the Bible, so pride’s solution is to pretend humility. False humility is our attempt to fool God himself. We think it is unseemly to celebrate our strengths, so we utter things about ourselves we do not believe. The problem with false humility is that it is false. False humility is the self-abasement we want others to reject, thus affirming our talent and skill. Meanwhile true humility celebrates the goodness of God wherever it may be. David said he was fearfully and wonderful made—and his soul knew it very well. The shepherd king did not mistake the thing made for the Great Maker. He celebrated the work of God—even in himself. C.S. Lewis helps us guard against false humility: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself: it is not thinking of yourself at all.”
Pride is a masquerade ball of vanity. We enter the hall wearing a mask—one of many from our collection. We receive the praise of men, knowing all along that we look nothing like the costume we wear. Pride leads to the kind hypocrisy where we keenly discern the flaws of others because we are haunted by our own. Pride is the leaven of the Pharisees. It makes us seem bigger than we are, and deflates those around us. Because we detest the lies we tell ourselves we try to expose these same lies in others. Pride leads us in prayer, “I thank you that I am not like other men.” Pride tries to sell God damaged goods at an inflated rate, unaware he has already paid the highest price. We hide the very flaws he is willing to love.
Pride cannot see beyond itself. Pride whispers that if we must accept grace, we should have it all. When it is finally cornered pride teaches us inflate our sin and demand all the grace God has to give—as if a single bird on a wire could breathe all the air in the sky. Pride hoards the grace of God—as if our sin were so great we could consume heaven’s full supply of grace, when in fact our sins are common to all mankind. Pride causes us to see grace as a zero-sum game—as if God’s kindness to others means less grace for us. But grace is not of this world. Grace is the stuff of the age to come, a substance that increases all the more when we share it.
Grace comes to expose pride, but only because grace sees the beauty of what we are: objects of his love, and partakers of his goodness. Grace strips us of our rags in order to clothe us forever in his love.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.