If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:25-26
In recovery circles, we use the term Cross Addiction to refer to the one who finds sobriety from one thing, only to develop an addiction to something else. He used his alcohol or drug for a reason and now that the chemicals are gone, there’s a void to be filled. So, he develops another unhealthy attachment to food, gambling, or illicit sex. He may even develop an obsession for something that is much more acceptable, like exercise. If it becomes a compulsion that he puts above all else though, then he’s still addicted, just not to a drug.
In today’s passage, Paul addressed what may be one of the most common cross addictions, particularly for Christians – Pride. Previously, Paul admonished the Galatians to abandon their self-destructive pursuits to live the Spirit-filled new life. In doing so though, he knew that some of them would inevitably become impressed by their success. They would abandon one self-destructive behavior, only to fall victim to pride, perhaps the worst cross addiction. Whereas the preceding passages may be pointed at those who are failing in some obvious way, today’s verses are pointed directly at those “successful Christians” sitting in the front pews on Sunday.
Pride is so evil because it subtly turns us from God, towards ourselves, while making us think we’re on the right path. I no longer use drugs. I’ve recovered well. I am pretty amazing. People should listen to and follow me. I’m a big deal. I, me, my . . . In this condition, we’re addicted to self, and can no longer comprehend that we need God. In this condition, we’re worse off than we were in our drugs, pornography, gambling, or gluttony. At least back then, we knew we needed to change. In the cross addiction of self and pride, we’re blind to our condition and thus, we see no need for change.
As we’re transformed by God, we’re all tempted by pride. I did this. The only solution to becoming enslaved to our hideous pride, is to continually recognize that we need God just as much today as we did back in our struggles. We may be sober, living in freedom from one addiction, but we’re not perfect and we must continue to grow. To do so, we must daily embrace the reality that we need God as much today as we ever have.