Sinning Like a Christian // 02
Pride is often placed at the fount of the Seven, supposedly being the one from which all the others flow. I like this move for three reasons.
First, it reminds us that sin is as likely to thrive among good people as bad people. Good people generally have lots more to be proud about.
Second, it proves that we’d never know what sin is apart from the particular story of God’s full revelation in Jesus. We tend to celebrate pride – take pride in your school, your team, your country, your family, etc. I’m not saying all of this is bad, but surely it isn’t all good either. We must learn that pride is a sin – that it causes us not to see ourselves in the truest light, that it teaches us to compare and compete, that it blocks the flow of God’s life into ours.
And third, it forces us to square with the fact that sin is about God. Sin is about God because God is God. Why is this an important point to make? Because we often make sin about us. We think about sin as that which ruins us as persons and societies; we think about sin in terms of its effect on us. At our church we did a series on sin a while back called “What’s Killing You?” where we talked about the ways various sins eat us from the inside out. A key word was “Toxic” – sin is toxic in that it destroys us. All this is more than fine and good – it is absolutely true and crucially important. Sin is horrible because it rips us apart. But it is also – and primarily – horrible because it is a slap in the face of the loving-holy God who created the heavens and the earth. Sin isn’t just relational maladjustment; sin is sin because it alienates us from God by offending God.
Thus we are not to seek the seriousness and significance of the Seven by uncovering their deleterious effects upon human life, but rather the way in which each, in its own way, and in concert, violates the nature of God. Because it is the nature of God in Christ to offer selfless, self-emptying love (Philippians 2), Lust is a sin. Because the Son of God is the one who stoops and serves, Pride is a sin. Because God is the source of all that we have and all that we are, to envy someone else is to make Envy more than an unattractive personality characteristic; Envy is sin. Because Jesus taught us to pray for no more than ‘our daily bread,’ lust for more bread, Gluttony, is a sin. (Sinning Like a Christian, 30)
Since the Bible speaks pretty clearly of idolatry as the root of all sin, and because pride is the most obviously idolatrous of the Seven, placing pride at the root reminds us that sin is serious because sin is about God.