Posted on May 22, 2014 by Universal Life Church Monastery
At last we have come to the center, the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins: Pride.
“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.” C.S. Lewis wrote in the book, Mere Christianity.
It is said that Lucifer was once the greatest and most beautiful Angel in Heaven. In Hebrew, the word Lucifer means “shining one, morning star.” Lucifer’s pride and desire to compete with God was what caused his fall from Heaven and transformation into Satan.
Not all pride is sin. People say they are proud of their friends, children, or other family members. ‘Pride’ in this sense is not necessarily a sin; it depends what exactly they are proud of. Most of the time the phrase ‘is proud of’ is taken to mean ‘has a warm admiration of.’ This admiration is far from sin.
Sinful pride is believing that you are better than others, failing to recognize the accomplishment of others, and undue admiration of the personal self. We take pride in almost everything- our appearance, possessions, intelligence, job, even our religion. These things are not wrong by themselves. They become a problem when we make an idol of these things, thinking ourselves so highly that there is no room for God.
Pride in the Bible
There are many passages in the bible that talk about pride. When you look at all of them together, there are common threads that can be highlighted by a few key verses.
Pride sets the stage for ruin. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) An inflated ego is at risk of being popped, and those who place themselves on high set themselves up for a greater fall. If you allow yourself to take too much pride, eventually reality will come around and smack you in the face.
Pride deceives the heart. “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Galatians 6:3) Those who don’t believe won’t understand this verse. They likely don’t see the pervasiveness of sin in this world, or the depths of human depravity, and are unaware that “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law” (Romans 3:20) Humans are fallen creatures. If in pride we think we’re righteous, good, or powerful, we are deceive ourselves.
Pride is atrocious to the Lord. “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured he will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 16:5) If pride is a seed, then arrogance is the sprout. The longer we are proud of something, the more likely we are to start comparing ourselves to others. If we are still proud even after comparison, in our minds we have subconsciously judged ourselves to be better. This is the opposite of Jesus’ message. He is the son of God, yet he did not think himself better than others.
Pride and Humility
If pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins, then humility, it’s opposing virtue must be extremely important. Humility is a vital part in maintaining a relationship with God. The bible, especially in Proverbs, constantly tells of this virtue’s importance. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom”; “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 11:2; 29:13). There are many verses on the humility, but the point is that those who humble themselves will be exalted and in turn those who exalt themselves will be humbled.
People who are too proud are less likely to accept advice or instruction. “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” (Prov.10:17) Failure to accept our weakness or shortcomings will prevent us from growing. Obadiah 1:3 says, “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, who who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’”
The proud think themselves at the top, so why should they listen to those “below” them? What if they refused to hear the gospel and the way to salvation? Pride can prevent us from accepting our fallen nature and need for a savior, which is why it’s worse than any act of lust, greed, wrath, gluttony, envy, or sloth.
Greed Posted on April 17, 2014 by Universal Life Church Monastery
“Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.”
So wrote Thomas Aquinas, the immensely influential philosopher and theologian. This is an excellent summary of what happens when we are greedy. Greed is a vice that is rooted in selfish desire, along with gluttony, lust, and envy. It’s corresponding virtue is Charity.
Greed is an irrational desire for wealth, goods, or other objects of value, that goes beyond basic survival needs or comfort. Those who pursue these things as their chief end are guilty of greed. Some recognizable examples include Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and more recently Jordan Belfort from the film, the Wolf of Wall Street.
What exactly is wealth? Wealth can take many forms including social wealth (friends and family) physical wealth (health) and inner wealth (mental/emotional health). In the context of this article, wealth is money, valuable resources, material possessions, and the like. Greed typically manifests in these forms, so this will be our focus.
Money Vs. Love of Money
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” -Ecclesiastes 5:10
The love of money is a problem, not necessarily money itself. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10). This helps us put the quote from St. Aquinas into perspective. Money is of no use to us after we die. If this is true, why should we invest in something that one day will be no use to us?
The love of money is sin because it gets in the way of loving God. Jesus taught that it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. When a rich young ruler asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor. When the man heard this, he went away sad because he had great wealth (Matthew 19:16-22).
The young ruler’s inability to do as Jesus suggested proves that wealth was his master, not Christ. His love for the world interfered with his love for God. No one can serve two masters; he will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24).
Greed Vs. Charity
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” -Matthew 13:44
To contrast the story of the rich young ruler, consider the story of the poor widow. One day, while Jesus was in the Temple, he observed wealthy people putting offerings into a collection box. Eventually, along came a poor widow who dropped two small copper coins into the box. When Jesus saw this he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
Since the widow was poor, she had no security in money. Even though she gave less in real numbers, her offering was greater because it was all she had. This shows that she had security in the Lord, not in money. On the other hand, the rich young ruler had plenty of wealth and was very secure in this sense, but when asked to give up his worldly currency for heavenly currency, he could not. Can we blame him? If you were asked to sell off all your assets and give the money away, could you? Could you give away your car, your computer, your smartphone? This is why greed can be so dangerous; it gives a false sense of security that can be very hard to let go of.
This does not mean that we are greedy if we have wealth, nice cars, cool computers, or sleek mobile devices. As said before, it is the love of these things that is the problem, not the things themselves. If we find more joy and delight in wealth and material possessions than we do in Christ, then there is a problem, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16).
Greed Is A Trap
It’s easy for the wealthy to become secure and complacent, ascribing their riches to their own efforts instead of acknowledging that all things come from God. With more wealth our lives become easier, we derive more enjoyment from wealth, and the temptation to store up treasure on earth instead of treasure in heaven becomes greater. “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
No one can serve two masters. If we focus on earthly things, then we fail to give God the glory and worship He deserves. Our first aim should be to build treasure in heaven. If while doing this we build earthly treasure as well – this is not wrong- but can be dangerous. Wealth equals spiritual peril. “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
If you have wealth you will face unique temptations that poor people do not. Give thanks for the blessings given to you, and ask God to help you remember that treasure in Heaven is more important than treasure on Earth. Take heart in the knowledge that the Lord will not allow you to be tempted by wealth beyond your capability to resist (1 Cor. 10:13). To the best of your ability “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for God has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)
This probably should have been posted before the others. [Original article]
In Christian ethics, the seven deadly sins are a group of vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate Christians about fallen humanity’s tendency to sin. In the currently recognized version, the seven sins are gluttony, envy, lust, pride, sloth, greed, and wrath.
The Catholic Church divides sin into two categories: venial sins and mortal sins. Venial sins are considered lesser, forgivable sins that do not cause complete separation from God. Mortal sins are severe sins that cause complete dislocation from the grace of God, insuring damnation unless forgiven.
In Catholic thought, the seven deadly sins are not distinct from other sins, but are rather the origin of all sins. They are sometimes called the capital sins, which in Latin means the “head” of all the others. Almost every sin can be categorized into one of these seven.
The origin of the concept of seven capital sins is linked to the work of Evagrius Ponticus, a 4th century monk. Evagrius listed in Greek eight evil thoughts: gastrimargia, porneia, philargyria, hyperēphania, lypē, orgē, kenodoxia, akēdia. Respectively these are gluttony, prostitution, greed, hubris, sadness, wrath, boasting, and dejection.
In AD 590, Pope Gregory I revised the list into the seven deadly sins. He combined sorrow, despair, and despondency into acedia (sloth), vainglory (hubris) into pride, and added envy. This new order became the standard and was used by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy. His epic poem was an allegorical vision of the afterlife, and is considered a culmination of the medieval world-view as it had formed in the Western Church. Since these times were when the concept of seven deadly sins was developing, we will return to Dante and his work for each sin.
Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite corresponding virtue. In parallel order to the sins they oppose, they are:
Temperance – Gluttony
Kindness – Envy
Chastity – Lust
Humility – Pride
Diligence – Sloth
Charity – Greed
Patience – Wrath
Over the past few weeks I have explored each of the virtues from the perspective of different religions. Now I will turn to look at the other side: the seven deadly sins.