Pride can be a good thing when it’s about self-respect or being satisfied with a job well done, but we all know that pride has a dark side. We’ve seen it in ourselves and in others. The Bible tells us that the first sin ever committed was the sin of pride. An archangel named Lucifer became so full of himself that he wanted to be like God. He recruited followers and a third of of God’s angels swore their allegiance to him. Not content to lead a large rebel force of angels, the chief demon turned his attention to the first man and woman. He came alongside Eve and whispered, God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat the fruit of the tree. You will become just like God–knowing everything, both good and evil.
The Devil effectively appealed to Eve’s pride, and he’s been effectively appealing to humankind’s pride ever since. It’s not hard to recognize in ourselves. The sin of pride has three basic characteristics:
- The most visible is vanity, a preoccupation with our appearance. We may not worship the mirror, but we devote a lot of attention to it.
- Beneath vanity lies a second characteristic of prideful people: stubbornness. Stubbornness causes us to shun correction. When someone points out an error, we evade or deny or blame someone else. This kind of defensiveness is particularly hard for God to penetrate.
- But there is a third dimension of pride that is even more dangerous. It can be summed up in the word exclusion. Pride is a choice to exclude God and people from their rightful place in our hearts.
Jesus said that the essence of a Christian lifestyle is to love God and to love others, but pride destroys our capacity to love. Ask yourself:
James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote a letter that identified the source of humankind’s challenges and how to overcome them. “If any of you lacks wisdom,” James says, “he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (1:5-8).
All of us have heard spectacular stories of people who had a spiritual experience that totally changed their life. The story of Virginia Lively is a good example: Virginia had an experience where she wept uncontrollably for four days and nights. Then she saw a white light, and in the light was a face with eyes that looked deep within her and loved her and forgave her. She understood this to be Jesus. This went on for three months. Then the face began to fade, but told her that he would always be with her. She asked how, and she was told she would be able to see him. Several years later while speaking to a group, Virginia saw the eyes of Jesus looking at her again, only this time it was through a woman in the second row. Then, as she was trying to process this, she suddenly saw his eyes looking into hers from everyone in the room.
Some interesting statistics about anger: Men lose their temper twice as often as women (men an average of six times a week, women, three). Women are more often angry at people, while men usually become angry with things (tools, delays, etc.). Single adults are likely to get angry twice as often as marrieds. The most common place for people to get angry? Home. The most likely recipients of that anger? You guessed it, the people we love the most.
Given the stakes, we would be wise to consider the Bible’s seven-step plan for dealing with anger in a constructive way: