Focal Passage: Proverbs
11:2; 16:5, 18-19; 27:1-6
God knows that when you eat
of it your eyes will be opened,” the serpent said to the woman, talking about
the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden. “You will be like God, knowing good
and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Who wouldn’t want to be like
The serpent appealed to her
pride, and she and her husband ate. Hence our lesson title: “The Original Sin.”
According to 1 Timothy 6:10,
“the love of money is the root of all evil.”
In Genesis, the problem is
One might argue that all six
of the other deadly sins have their origins in an all-about-me attitude of
superiority and self-indulgence: pride.
Even figuratively, pride is
at the center.
Remember WASPLEG, that
mnemonic device used by the teenager in our church to memorize the Seven Deadly
The “P” is in the middle:
Wrath (anger), Avarice (greed), Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony. Pride
is the linchpin, the keystone, with three sins before and three after.
Yet Jesus, quoting Leviticus
19:18, said that the second commandment, after loving God with your whole
being, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-31). His
statement implies at least some measure of self-love. Pride can’t be all bad.
Tim Cannon, writing on
today’s lesson in the May issue of Baptists Today, distinguishes between “an
undue sense of one’s own superiority or a proper sense of one’s own dignity and
worth,” between “self-infatuation and self-respect,” between “a healthy
self-esteem or a smug arrogance.”
The key lies in a right
understanding of where our worth comes from. If I think it’s because of my
intelligence, my looks, my possessions or my achievements, then a superior and
arrogant attitude is not far off. Or, imagining that I lack such things, I
might consider myself to be less-than, not quite good enough.
On the other hand, knowing
that I have value simply because God made me and Jesus died for me rules out
any sense of prideful arrogance or quavering inferiority. I can love myself, in
all my failures and achievements, with humility, acceptance, and even grace.
And I can love others the same way, just like Jesus said.
A verse worth memorizing is
Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a
fall.” And how can we keep from being prideful? Try Romans 5:8: “But God shows
His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
That levels the field.