April 15, 2011

Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #2: Live for the “One”




The Rev. Robert Cummings*


     The following study is a journey through Lent, the forty-day pre-Easter season (which excludes Sundays).  Easter’s date, determined by the time of the first full moon after the Spring equinox, is very late this year.

     Traditionally, many Christians use Lent for self-examination and a renewal of their commitment to their faith.

     This year I  chose to do a devotional study on aspects of the Seven Deadly Sins, sins identified by very early Christians as key behaviors separating man from God and God’s will. The seven sins are not listed together in the Bible—each is, however, spoken about in various Scripture sites.





#1 Breaking the Mosaic Law

#2 Defying God or rebelling against God

#3 Acts of violence to others

#4 Failing to make proper sacrifices or worship

#5 Not living up to or reflecting God’s glory (not living as one created in God’s image)



SCRIPTURE: 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1 (NIV))

DEVOTION:  The toddler wobbled as he stood holding onto the toy box. A big grin stretched across his face as he urned to offer a plush animal to his nearby parent, legs shaking all the while. I could not help notice the two parents, their faces filled with big smiles as they applauded the effort. I know it was about recognition, and increased manual dexterity that the parents applauded, clapping and cheering Yeah!!

     So begins our life long battle with pride. Pride isn’t about doing something good. It isn’t about achievements or making effort. It’s about recognition from others. It is falling prey to making what we do about what others think of us. We link our value of ourselves to what we produce, our appearance, or performance. When there is applause for these, are hearts pound with joy as pride wells up and our self value is swelled along with it.

     The problem with pride being linked to value is we are only as good as what others think of us. Even as we succeed in overcoming other vices, pride of our achievement inflates our value of ourselves and opens us to the fleeting and soon deflating act of discovery.  We find ourselves hiding our problems from others view in order to succeed. We let others know we have not fallen victim to their vices. Acts of service become resume builders. This is the presence of pride.

     The cure for pride lies not in this world, but in the Kingdom of God. The king of kings was born to a poor family. The man who healed so many was himself scoured and beaten. He who could avoid death as the creator of life, met it with dignity.

     We can deal with pride by asking some simple questions.

  • Am I valuable because I did ________?
  • I feel good when someone says, “What a great ________ I am.”
  • What a great God ___ knows.

     Remember, God loves you whether you win or lose, whether you are sinful or selfish. God loves you no matter what.

     For that reason, when we set our minds on the things above (Col. 3.1) we are doing what really matters. As the old Puritan saying goes, Live for an audience of One. It is the only cheer that matters. It will keep us from hurting ourselves and move us to grow strong in life.

PRAYER:  Loving God, we are a proud people. We need your help to put aside the pursuit of honor among people at the expense of humble response to you. Give us hearts to live for the audience of One– You, O God. Amen.

* The Rev. Robert Cummings pastors Covenant Presbyterian Church in Ligonier, Pennsylvania


To start at the beginning of this Lenten study on the Seven Deadly Sins, click on: Ash Wednesday: Intro to Lenten Study on the Seven Deadly Sins

To read the previous devotion, click on: Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #2: Making Our Own Idols

To read the following devotion, click on: Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #3: Taking Joy in Beating Others Down



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