Insidious Voice Inside Us: Choosing Pride
“Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”
~Lord Elrond, The Fellowship of The Ring~
Accomplishments, have you ever made one that made your head swell a bit? Have you ever done something well enough that it boosted your self image? Have you perhaps acted in a way that paid off or saved yourself a great deal of heartache and thanked your lucky stars that something that happened to another did not happen to you?
I am regrettably guilty of all three…
- I have let some of the most small or simple of achievements make me believe I can do about anything I set my mind too and sometimes have forgotten who my Father is and the amazing things He has done and continues to do for me.
- I have let the occasional compliment fuel my own thoughts about myself as well as the way in which I see myself to the point where I have looked down upon others.
- I have avoided certain situations only to take on the attitude of ‘it sucks to be them,’ and ‘I told them so’ or the like elevating myself when others are going through difficult times.
Why do I ask, you wonder. To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at Tolkien’s character of Sauron within the pages of The Lord of the Rings.
As an entity of fearsome power Sauron’s own servants are barely able to stay in his presence. Sauron also had no physical body or form. Despite this as well as his existence being tied to the One Ring, he seems to see himself as an omniscient or all powerful being. In doing so, Sauron embodies pride. This very sin is the one of which began the battle between heaven and hell. For it was this very same force in which brought Satan, otherwise known as Lucifer, to be cast out of Heaven.
Isaiah 14:12- 14 International Version (NIV)
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[a]
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Pride is the central source of conflict inside The Lord of the Rings. It is the driving force behind the War that riddles Middle Earth.
A good examples of this is seen in Lord Elrond’s Secret Council as the races of dwarves, men, and elves argue about the fate of the Ring as well as the one to be tasked with the journey.
Pride also impacts EVERY character. All of them are tempted on some level. Whether it is merely the consideration of bearing the burden that no one else is qualified for or having the ability to outperform or overpower Sauron, they each seek to overcome evil without falling prey to it. Every one of them possibly thought themselves capable.
- Gandalf would be tempted to use it for good.
- Galadriel would be tempted to be an equally feared powerful though her intentions may not have been as terrifying as Sauron’s.
- Boromir would be tempted to use the ring to protect his people with the hope of defeating Sauron.
- Aragorn may have been tempted as his bloodline was the one in which originally reduced Sauron to a non-physical form. Perhaps like Isildur, he might have perceived himself as powerful had he succumbed to the temptation of the ring.
Our actions are motivated strongly by pride. The most insidious form of pride we have though…is Spiritual Pride.
What Is Spiritual Pride?
Spiritual pride is when we:
- Are glad we are not like others….
- Give up something the world values to get closer to God while feeling we are better than everyone else…
- Measuring other’s value by their sins while forgetting our own. ..
In other words, it’s when we have a ‘Holier than Thou’ attitude.
The Ugly Truth
Righteous superiority or spiritual pride is and has been very real within the church as well as the hearts of devout believers since Jesus walked the earth. For it is these types of attitudes that make me think of Jesus’ interaction with an adulterous woman who was brought before him that had been caught in the act. Think of the words and actions of the Pharisees as you read this passage.
John 8:1-11 New International Version (NIV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.“
The lesson From This:
Pride is Our Greatest Foe.