The list of virtues in Galatians 5, known collectively as the Fruit of the Spirit, is probably the best-known collection in the Bible. But the list isn't an exhaustive one. There are several other characteristics of a growing Christian which aren’t listed there. Those are the ones we’re going to examine over the next few days.
If you look at the list of recommended books on the side of the web page, you might notice Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I was really glad when the Chronicles of Narnia movies came out, since I hope that this will introduce Lewis to a new generation. He’s my favorite author outside the Bible itself, and he offers a lot of insight into our world today. Even though he wrote during the 1940’s through the early 1960’s, if you read his work you’ll be shocked at how relevant his arguments are. Human nature hasn’t changed in either a thousand years or in fifty, and a lot of the “talking points” of non-Christians and atheists that you hear today—which they present as a “new” argument which will bring Christianity crashing down—were answered by Lewis fifty years ago. Read him, and you’ll be thinking more clearly, I promise you.
The reason I bring him up is that he has a lot to say about pride and humility in Mere Christianity, in which he talks about different Christian virtues and their opposite vices. He has a chapter about sexual immorality, and he makes the very interesting point that the “centre” (British spelling) of Christian morality is not here. From the way some Christians talk, you'd think that the main point of the Bible is to tell people not to have sex outside of marriage. That’s important, but it’s not the most important aspect of becoming like Christ.
Then he comes to the chapter on pride/humility, and he makes the sober point (I’m paraphrasing): “You remember when we were talking about sex that I said that the centre of Christian morality was not there? Well, now we’ve come to the centre.”
(still paraphrasing): "Drunkenness, lying, and a lot of other sins we think of as blatant ones, they’re mere 'flea bites' in comparison to this one. Pride is what made the Devil the Devil. It is the ultimate anti-God state of mind. Pride is the root of every sin that’s ever been committed. At the heart of every sin is the thought that 'I know better than God does.'"
That’s why the Bible talks so much about it. Read the book of Proverbs, and see how many warnings there are against pride and admonitions towards humility. In today’s reading (which also quotes Proverbs), we see just how important this is. What do we see about this issue?
• If you’re proud, you’re setting yourself up as God’s enemy. Remember, pride—by very definition—is anti-God. Do you want the Lord Almighty of the universe opposing what you do? Are you nuts?
• By contrast, he gives grace to the humble. By swallowing our pride and confessing our own inadequacies and failures, we find just how gracious (full of grace) our God is. If we confess and repent, he will forgive.
• True humility takes sin a lot more seriously than we tend to do. You can’t claim to be humble and in a right relationship with God if you don’t take sin seriously. This isn't a permanent state of despair, but facing your abject spiritual bankruptcy before you throw yourself on the mercy of his court.
• Then we come to the great reversal in vs. 10. If we humble ourselves—making ourselves “low” before him—then he will lift us up. He'll exalt us in due time.
One last point that Lewis makes about this: Pride is at the same time the most deadliest and most insidious of sins. If you think you don’t have a problem with it, then that shows just how prideful you are.
Lord Jesus, I am so wrapped up in self that I don’t even recognize it most of the time. Deep in the bottom of my soul, please scrape out the rot and fill me with yourself instead of myself.