Wednesday, July 06, 2016

C.S. Lewis on Pride

Fourth of July 2016 in Rockford, Illinois

C.S. Lewis writes:

"The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity - it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that - and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison - you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."

This is important because James 4:6 says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Francis Frangipane has called pride "the armor of darkness." Pride keeps, by an act of self-will, God out, and self in. This is why Lewis calls pride "the complete anti-God state of mind." Lewis says that "pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense."

"Pride," on the surface,  seems cool, like something one would want to have, since it declares "I am better than other people!" or "I have something you don't have!" or "I have achieved things others have not!" Pride draws attention to one's self, and this feels awesome since ours is the age of selfie-ism. But saying pride-things is like saying "I want to have cancer inside of me," because pride is corrosive. Pride eats away. Pride alienates. Pride is always the teacher, since pride cannot learn because it is convinced that it is the fountain of all learning.

The proud person is in bondage and are blind to their own prison walls. To rescue a proud person one must engage in the prison ministry of humility. When humility meets pride, freedom meets bondage.

Nietzsche despised non-selfie-ism. He did not understand the strength and power of humility, and this of Christ, who "humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant." (Phil. 2)

Lewis concludes: "If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."

My new book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.