Over the years of my ministry, I have come to the realization that the single common sin in every human being is pride. This longstanding tradition of pride goes way back to our ancestors in the Garden, as we have learned during Great Lent by reading daily from Genesis. In the case of Adam and Eve, pride drove them to falling into the temptation from the devil, and more than anything else, Great Lent is about defeating the pride so that we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
When Adam and Eve were caught, having eating from the tree, immediately their pride could not allow them to take responsibility for their sin. Go back Genesis 3 and you will find Eve blamed the serpent while Adam blamed God. Today, thousands of years later, pride continues to rule our hearts, and we continue to refuse to take responsibility for our sins. Now it isn’t about eat from the tree. Now it is about always thinking that we know better than anyone else.
Think about it for a moment. We are surrounded by people who don’t say what we ‘know’ they should say, do what we ‘know’ they should do, think what we ‘know’ they should think, etc. We think we are wise, and everyone else is foolish. Take a moment and read today’s reading from Proverbs below and you will find a warning against this send of pride, or self-importance.
During this current health crisis, nothing reveals our pride more than our insistence that we know better than everyone else who is trying to keep us safe. Many bishops are closing churches throughout the world, yet WE think we know better. Governments are closing bars and restaurants (in addition to many other public spaces) and WE think we know better. I am reminded of the warning today, “If you scoff, you alone will bear it.” Unfortunately, we won’t be alone.
Our actions during this time of health crisis do not only affect ourselves. As human beings, we are ‘all in this together’ and we need to take actions based upon our responsibility to others, not just ourselves. Will this mean that we trust those for whom such decisions are required? If we embrace our Great Lenten Journey of increased prayer, increased fasting, and increased service to others through almsgiving, we can finally learn to defeat the pride that drives us. I CAN be done, but only if we allow the disciplines of the Church to shape our lives. It is was Great Lent is about.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it. A foolish woman is noisy; she is wanton and knows no shame. She sits at the door of her house, she takes a seat on the high places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" And to him who is without sense she says, "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. – Proverbs 9.12-18