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Pride, The Hardest One

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Vice #7: Pride, The Hardest One - March 07, 2007

I have saved this vice, pride, for last in this look at vices. Why? Because it is the hardest one for me. I truly think this is my biggest temptation. But I am not proud to admit it. I am embarrassed. I am afraid that people will think less of me. (There it is: proof that I am too proud.)

One time I was with some friends who were confessing their shortcomings for chocolate or cigarettes or handsome men and someone said, so what is your vice, Melodie? Pride.

Too often we suffer from pride when our children mess up, beyond the anguish we feel about a misdeed or mistake they've made. A note gets sent home about what my daughter has done on the bus that day. I am mortified. The behavior is bad enough, but what will the principal think of us now? That we're terrible parents?

We are often proud of the achievements of our children not for the joy it brings us or them, but because it makes us look good. This is a vice as bad as lust or greed or any of the rest.

The really insidious thing is that we are also pros at making excuses for our own vices, so that even as I admit that I am proud when my children make me "look good," I'm thinking, well, that vice certainly isn't as bad as lust, for heaven's sake.

Oh yes it is. I am in denial. But my mother's line comes back to taunt me, and this is one of those lines that you think probably isn't actually found in the Bible, but there it is, Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." What does that mean exactly? Pride brings about a fall.

Whew. Enron executives. Worldcom accountants. Complicit auditors for big companies. Senators. Even presidents, one who resigns and one who doesn't have the dignity to resign. Newspaper columnist Melodie Davis. All people full of pride.

And this isn't just a vice found in the dusty pages of the Old Testament. No, there it is again, in plain language in Mark 7:20-22: "What comes out of you is what defiles you: out of the heart comes: evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness."

Right down there with murder and adultery.

And so, when I think that I am better than someone else, because I'm not so poor, (or rich) or my kids don't have pierced noses (keep your fingers crossed), or I go to worship services every week, or fill in the blank, committing pride can be the ruination of my self and my soul as surely as committing murder.

Pride happens because we are human, and there is probably a fine line between self-esteem and pride. Pride is also a close cousin to jealousy. And envy. We are often proud because down deep we are also envious/jealous. Many otherwise well adjusted and successful people suffer from professional jealousy.

I do hope that this admission that I suffer from excess pride is received in the spirit that it is given and intended: I'm as dirty rotten as the next gal, but with the good Lord's help, I am trying to keep it in check. And I hope that this confession helps others look honestly at their own weaknesses.

Contributed by Melodie Davis: [email protected] Melodie is the author of eight books and writes a syndicated newspaper column, Another Way
 

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