Cancer of the Soul
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
A close friend recently asked if it was possible that part of the reason I go to the gym had something to do with vanity, pride and affirmation. The idea was absurd, and I said so. That’s stupid, because first of all, no one is impressed by my abilities at the gym and second, well, that’s just stupid.
With a little honesty though, I must admit that anything I do can be corrupted by pride, vanity and a desire for affirmation. Eating well and going to the gym can be about taking care of myself or it can be about looking like I go to the gym. Being a kind physician can be about caring for others, or it can be about my desire to be well liked. My pride is a cancer that, if unchecked, metastasizes into every part of my life.
I don’t mean to make light of cancer with the metaphor. Rather, I mean to illustrate the monstrous evil of pride. It was pride that transformed Lucifer from angel to devil and now, pride is the greatest weapon he uses to subtly turn me towards myself, away from God.
Pride is hard to recognize as it blinds me to its presence. In the story above, pride was my underlying flaw, but it was pride that prevented me from seeing the truth. In denial, I cannot even begin to seek help and my cancer continues to spread.
Pride decimates faith. If faith is the gaze of our souls upon God, then pride turns that gaze to self. In the pursuit of ourselves above all, there is no room for God. I, me, mine, all-things-me. This is the malignant condition described in today’s passage that leads inevitably to destruction.
Thankfully, great physician provided the treatment for our condition. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). It is in daily denying our old malignant nature, that we put it to death, turning our gaze to Christ. It is only in following him above all that we find life and joy instead of death and destruction.