Hubris & Humility
A Breeding Ground – Lesson 15 of the Overcome Bible Study for Addiction Recovery
Pride is considered the grandfather of all sin. Pride allows you to adopt the mindset that you are indeed the center of the universe. It is subtle and makes you a poor student. Pride encourages comparison and selfish expressions. If you don’t believe this fact, engage in the following rudimentary experiment: go an entire day without referring to yourself or your achievements… Follow along in this lesson of the Overcome – Bible Study for Addiction Recovery.
There are numerous quotes that address pride. There are also a multitude of verses in scripture that examine pride as well. There is no shortage of literature on this topic, from Nietzsche to Solomon, from Oedipus Rex to Jesus Christ. There is just something repulsive and repugnant about pride in humans, so much so that we hate it in others, yet condone it in ourselves. Which leads me to believe that the sin in me recognizes the sin in you. At this point it is no longer a question of denomination or profession. We all agree, Christ follower or atheist, pride is a quality undesirable in others, yet we tolerate it within ourselves. While the antithesis to pride, humility, is a trait we all wish our fellow man to be endowed with but find difficult to volunteer ourselves to this practice.
As I mentioned in the introduction post of Overcome, it has been quite an undertaking to translate a group meeting into a blog posting. One of the components to the original design of the class was using a celebrity personality who had succumbed to one of the destructive reactions we cover and juxtapose a testimony from an individual who embodied the biblical response. In this translation, I have removed the celebrity references because I did not want to drive a lot of back and forth and risk missing the entire point. With that being said, I will make this one statement; throughout the development of the original class material, it has been harder to find individuals who have recovered from addiction, than those who have passed away either due to or as a result of. Tragically, I believe it is because of the very topic we discuss in this post.
The problem with pride is that the one suffering from this affliction is they are never wrong, which means they will struggle with being humble. They literally believe they are right, deep down in their heart. Now it is easy for me to be on the other side of the keyboard and point my finger at all of the people whom I believe are prideful, especially when they disagree with me. But for some reason, we all fall into the following observation:
While we are violently aware of pride in others, we exhibit blissful ignorance on our behalf for the same affliction.
A Question of Perspective
The word hubris is a fancy word that means excessive pride, self-confidence and arrogance. The bible refers to this as being stiff-necked. So, for the duration of our discussion, hubris, pride and arrogance will be used interchangeably. In the book Mere Christianity, CS Lewis calls pride “the great sin.” Albert Einstein was famously quoted saying, “the only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.” While God does not have a sliding scale when it comes to sin, we need to be particularly mindful of the dangers and products of pride: anger, bitterness, rejection, burden, exhaustion, disappointment, gossiping and comparing. While this is not an exhaustive list, let’s focus on the last one for a moment, comparing.
When we compare, we look either up the food chain or down the food chain. While looking up the food chain could generate inspiration, it usually results in the reactive emotion envy. However, looking down the food chain could generate compassion, it usually results in pride. When we start this comparison, we suddenly become aware of the shortcomings of others and foster the deadly feeling of self-importance. When we engage in this activity, we become dismissive of others and talk down to them in posturing manners. Many things can breed arrogance; house, money, car, job, spouse, looks, talents, even knowledge. Regardless, the things that we feel most prideful about are the areas we feel the most superior and powerful in.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.Proverbs 11:2
Notice the wording of this verse, he says when pride comes, not if. I believe, because Solomon was especially specific in his request when God asked him what should he be given. Solomon answered “a discerning heart…” With that knowledge, I have to logically assume Solomon was well equipped to observe and report the many motivations for what we humans do, he could reasonably deduce human behaviors and actions. After the comma, he uses the word then. This is a cause and effect statement, a formula. Pride consequently leads to disgrace: the perpetual remorse of conscience. What goes up, must come down. Proverbs is laden with this type of structured advice for Godly life. And, as it turns out, Solomon had quite a bit to say about the dangers of pride, reference verses 18:12 and 16:18.
Still a Student
Look at the last section of our anchor verse but with the humble is wisdom. This is the understood contrast and within it lies the heart of addressing pride. We have the negative consequence to partially reinforce against pride, but we need the positive reward to move from discipline to growth. In other words, we chose to open ourselves to instruction. While pride makes people unteachable, humility makes us a willing student.
Words like humble and humility sound repulsive and leave a bad taste in our mouth when we say them, don’t they? It is because it goes directly against our self-based nature and culture. You don’t have to teach a child how to be selfish. However, as we get older, we learn to disguise this nasty little characteristic. Before too long, it takes a conscious act of the will to show humility. That is if we can resist the urge to tell everyone about our benevolent actions. But once we come to Christ, we acknowledge that we can’t do it and it isn’t all about us.
Unfortunately, we will always fight against being self-based creatures. The proclivity in our spiritual walks is to exhibit humility in the early stages, but to give way to pride as we grow further away from our moment of salvation. This usually occurs unintentionally… more of a creeping effect. We stop looking at the log in our eye and start looking at speck in other people’s eyes. When we do this, we no longer focus on our growth, but comparison to others. We no longer need to learn anything… we know it all. And most importantly, humility is a necessary catalyst for good to not only flow into your life, but out from it.
Overcome – Bible Study for Addiction Recovery
Application – Shifting
As always, Jesus gave us a walking model of humility and its value in His Word. We are all familiar with Him washing the disciples’ feet at the last supper found in John 13. He got up before dinner and put Himself in a position of humility and washed their feet. What is especially important for us and our topic, is that in His position of humility, He gave us an illustration of our need for Him. He had to put himself in that position to do what needed to be done, for each of us. “The servant is not above the master” means that when we only think of ourselves, we become our own master. We must choose to put ourselves in the position of serving others, not ourselves, especially with the gifts and talents we find reasons to be prideful with. The best way to jump-start this process is to simply ask the next two questions:
- Why have you been given these gifts? I am certain that He did not bless us with talents for us to turn our backs on Him and generate self-confidence. More often than not gifts become idols and instruments for worshipping ourselves, not at all what their intended use was when they were given. Gifts and talents are meant to glorify God, the one who gave them. They are intended to benefit others and be a reflection of the giver.
- How are you using them? The fact that we have been given something does not imply that it is being used, let alone being used properly. I can attest to this fact just by looking at the kids in our house. We buy them toys and they use them as hammers. We give them tools and they become guns. Has He blessed you with artistic skill, a beautiful voice, athletic prowess, mechanical mind, the ability to wordsmith, a wonderful family? We have to be intentional with how we are using these gifts. If they terminate on themselves and do not glorify God, inspire or benefit others or make some sort of contribution, they are failing at their intended purpose.
The “Overcome” Bible Study for Addiction Recovery is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Bible Study for Addiction Recovery series.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book