John T. Willis

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Great Sin: Part I

One of the greatest Christian thinkers is C. S. Lewis. I highly recommend that everyone read his works. Many know his children's works about The Tales of Narnia.

In Chapter 8 of C. S. Lewis' Book, Mere Christianity, he wrote eloquently about "The Great Sin." I will be quoting much of this chapter, but will take the liberty of doing a little ad libbing as well.

Lewis writes:

Today I come to that part of Christian morals where they differ most sharply from all other morals. There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, expect Christians, every imagine thatthey are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, orthat they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have every heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no faulty which makes a man more unpopular, and no faulty which we are more unconscious of ourselves. Andthe more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit [I would add Self-Centeredness, Egotism, and thus Ingratitude. Sorry, we human beings are not GENUINELY grateful for all that our Creator and Master and Shepherd has done for us]; and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality [this is Chapter 5 in Mere Christianity], I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice,the utmost evil, is Pride. [See Proverbs 16:18:
"Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall"].
Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete Anti-God state of mind.

Does it seem that you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more price one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, "How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?" The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that pride is ESSENTIALLY competitive--is competitive by its very nature--whilethe other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only of having more of it than the next person. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the please of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impusle may drive two men into competition ifthey both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, and because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition ifo there is not enough to go around; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

[To be continued]

Share YOUR feelings and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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