In his lesson, "What Is Wrong With Us?,
taken from Gospel Christianity, Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer
Presbyterian Church addresses the issues that plague humanity such
as deceit, greed, focusing on ourselves, etc and quotes C.S. Lewis
to sum it all up under one term: PRIDE.
can be defined as a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity,
importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind
or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
Few of the synonyms are vanity, conceit, and egotism while the
antonym is humility.
This attitude of humility, the opposite of pride, reminds me of
”Your attitude should be the same as
that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be
grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a
servant,…” (Philippians 2:5-7, NIV)
If Christ Jesus sets the example of
humility, no wonder God loathes pride.
I'm not speaking of a healthy self-esteem or a sense of worth and
value in what one does. I'm referring to the kind of arrogance that
causes us to look down on other people, to exploit them for our
purposes, own benefits or pleasure, or to behave as though what
matters most in the world is "one's own dignity"
Christ did not look dignified on the cross. The Apostle Paul
continues his poem on the attitude of Him who
"first loved us”
who "being made in human likeness. And
being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became
obedient to death-- even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8, NIV)
Why did He die?
Keller's explanation of three words, that
the Old Testament writer David used for "sin", provide more insight
into why the death of God's Son was not only necessary, but
1. "Avah" -to be twisted out of shape.
2. "Chatha" -to miss the mark or target.
3. "Pasha" -to willfully rebel against someone to whom you
I think the concept of "sin" is better described by these terms,
allowing us to realize how we are twisted out of shape, missing the
mark or target, and not accepting or obeying what was set out for
Might even self-independence sometimes be
Can it be a way of saying, "I can do this
by myself-- I don't need anyone?"
I tend toward this attitude sometimes. My boyfriend Josh points this
out to me every so often when I decide to forgo asking
advice--"because I want to figure it out!" or "I don't want them to
know that I don't know!"
It's not that having an independent spirit
cannot be useful--a certain amount of self forte can be healthy--
but the problem is when this takes precedence over the feelings or
wise counsel of trustworthy people, we become self-focused,
thinking, "I can do it" even when it would be in our better
interest, even more efficient, to ask for help.
Because of our pride something doesn't get
To illustrate this point, I am going to ask
for an example, because I am running out of ideas!
When have you tried to "save face" by not
asking a question, and it cost you in the end?
Josh answered this question by bringing up the importance of asking
God and not just other people. He says that he is quick to ask
friends for help, but neglects asking God Himself. Other times, he
will say a quick prayer, for example--that he would use his time
wisely during a certain day-- but then he forgets about God as he
decides to -not- set his phone alarm, which would remind him of
something that needs to be done... all this to say, Josh has felt
the inefficiency of not being in tune with what God wants for him.
Another time I wanted to cook something but didn't have the recipe.
Josh suggested calling my mom for it. I said, “No, I will do this
myself, I will consult the internet”, as if depending on Martha
Stewart is any better than phoning home. Because I didn't act on it
in that moment, I failed to follow through later and right now I
can't even remember what that recipe was going to be.
Basically, Jesus died so that we could get out of our twisted
selves. Our confused, broken, hurt, empty selves need Christ.
So when Tim Keller or C.S. Lewis writes
about pride, they are not speaking in judgment but out of
experience, for they both too "fall
short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)
just like us. Fortunately for us, Christ is humble.
Ever had someone be humble on your
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died
for us." (Romans 5:8)
But that was not the end. There was a paradoxical, immense joy in
this that He was separating the divide between God and man as
mentioned in Hebrews 12:8 and John 17.
He was also going to be lifted up from his
suffering, as the third and final section of the Philippians 2
"Therefore God exalted Him to the
highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth
and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11, NIV)
There is also intense joy for those who believe, as we come to know
"All of you, clothe yourselves with
humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but
gives grace to the humble." Humble
yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you
up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for
self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a
roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing
firm in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:5b-9b, NIV)
He cares for me and for you!!!
To end, I will quote part of C.S. Lewis's
words on pride that touched me as I read it. I thought back to my
sincerity of opinion several years ago, which was, mainly, that I
was morally superior to some peers-- and to my sister-- because I
did not date boys and therefore waste time and become confused about
my existence. Maybe it was wise
as a young teenager, but my attitude was certainly prideful!
According to C.S. Lewis’ article in Mere Christianity called,
'The Great Sin', he writes, "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. He wants you to be
delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once
got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has
made you unhappy and restless all your life. Whenever we find that
our religious life is making us feel we are good--above all, that we
are better than someone else--I think we may be sure that we are
being acted on not by God but by the devil... If you think you are
not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."
This wonderful quoted is used by Rev. Keller in his book which we
are studying at our weekly Friday gathering of Living Acts cell
group which is part of Oakland International Fellowship.
Kristen Agnew is a
graduate student and a cell group leader
of Living Acts which is part of Oakland International Fellowship, the
English congregation for Pittsburgh Chinese Church-Oakland!