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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Essential Vice

Long quotes never seem to work in a sermon. Nothing seems to cause people's eyes to glaze over faster than for me to launch into a lengthy quote. I can almost tangibly sense people checking out on me. So here are some quotes I'd love to share tomorrow, but I will only summarize what I sense God leading me to say in the moment:

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

A few sentences later  Lewis adds:
According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (pp. 121-122). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

And surely if i were to quote the following I would lose nearly everyone but this quote by an author I only recently discovered also speaks to issues of humility, pride and relationships among believers:
It is the fellowship which the people of God have with the Father and with the Son that kindles the desires of others to have communion with them. I tell you, that if saints would be persuaded to spend more time and take more pains about their hearts, there would soon be such a divine excellence in their conversation that others would account it no small privilege to be with or near them. It is the pride, passion and earthliness of our hearts, that has spoiled Christian fellowship. Why is it that when Christians meet they are often jarring and contending, but because their passions are unmortified? Whence come their uncharitable censures of their brethren, but from their ignorance of themselves?
Flavel, John (2012-08-20). Keeping the Heart (Kindle Locations 1295-1299). Fig. Kindle Edition.

I'm grateful to be serving in an environment where there are many who display the sort of grace that can only be developed by time alone with God, but its not wise to let down our guard ever, for as Lewis said, pride is a vice from which none of us is free.


  1. Really enjoyed the quotes...definitely points to meditate on...thanks for sharing!

  2. Good stuff to ponder. Seems similar to justice for everyone else and grace for me.

  3. I've always heard pride was the first sin, so was caught off guard when Ann Voskamp said in her book "1,000 Gifts" that the first sin was ingratitude--not being content with what God gives. I see how the two are invariably linked. Pride says "I deserve better" and "I don't accept what God has given me." Voskamp advises to keep a list of each thing you're thankful for. It's quite humbling and helpful to "mortify our passions," as Flavel said, to focus on all God has given us.

  4. I haven't read Voskamp's book though I am familiar with it. I think a biblical theologian might take issue with trying to identify the first sin as a bit imprecise. Perhaps for most of our purposes its not important what we define as the greatest sin but that these are clearly both sins and we need to take steps to counter such tendencies whether it be ingratitude, pride, or some other specific sin. I'm sure Voskamp's practice of keeping a list of things a person is grateful for is a good.