If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God and he will give it generously, without finding fault. ~James 1:5 (NIV)
There is not a day that goes by that I have not had to – or failed to – take captive a pride-filled thought or opinion. Pride is just so insidious for me!
If I was ever more aware of pride before I saw the movie, The Devil’s Advocate, I cannot remember when. This movie elevated humility and pride into crystal clear focus for me as never before.
Al Pacino plays the evil guy who leads the most powerful law firm in the world. Keanu Reeves plays the tortured good guy from Florida who goes to work in NYC. “Come work for the most powerful law firm in the world because you are that good.”
Reeves is great as the semi-innocent lamb being led to slaughter in the web of sensuality and temptation that Pacino has woven delicately and deliberately, like a web, throughout the firm.
Caution: spoiler alert! By the end of the movie, the evil has nearly overtaken Reeves. Then he makes a decision to get out of it. Triumph!! But as he walks out of the courtroom, having overcome the temptation and walked away from the sinful life that was offered, he ran smack into the media who were applauding his victory.
It was like a magical balloon began blowing up in his chest. His pride lit up his eyes. He had, within minutes, gone from a humbling victory to a prideful boasting of what he had accomplished.
Wow! All too familiar a scene in my life!! And I know I am not alone.
C.S. Lewis wrote this of pride:
When you force yourself to stop being prideful, you admire yourself for doing that! It is a depth upon depth of self-love, of pride, that never ends.
But the antithesis of pride – humility – is one thing that we cannot put direct, check-the-box effort into. The more we work for it, the more pride we take in our own efforts. And if we think for a minute that we have achieved humble-nirvana, well, you know what that would do to the pride-o-meter! Off the charts!
Depth upon depth!
So what’s a person to do?
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show it by your good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. ~James 3:13
Get wisdom and, based on that verse, humility follows as a natural course of events!
But there’s a clarifier required. The pursuit of wisdom is not for the express purpose of gaining humility; rather, it’s for the purpose of drawing closer to God. Only that. Nothing else.
When pride has cooled off a bit, when it seems that I am better at taking those thoughts captive, it has always been in direct relation to how much I am in the word of God.
Just generally in the Bible more. Not seeking humility. Not asking that pride dissipate. But just seeking more of God.
Oh, that I could stay consistent in those efforts!
I know that pride may haunt me until the day I am face to face with Jesus. So, while I am here in the heat of battle, I will fight back with the only weapon that will give victory.
God’s word and the wisdom that comes from it: the antidote for pride.