Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, it’s the most deadly sin of all. C.S. Lewis calls it “the complete anti-God state of mind.”
We can define pride as a disorderly desire for human excellence. God gives us all gifts. He calls each of us to different types and degrees of excellence. But pride is a desire for an excellence that’s either above us or an excellence God does not will us to have.
You get that pride is bad. The problem is, you probably struggle with it. Almost everyone does. It’s one of the most universal sins.
Here’s how to overcome the sin of pride:
1. Be patient with yourself
You won’t conquer your pride overnight. It’s a difficult sin to eradicate. Be patient; otherwise, you’ll fall into despair and perhaps commit even greater sins.
2. Continue to act
Don’t let fear of pride prevent you from doing good things. God gave you gifts. Yes, there’s a risk that pride will creep into your good works. But God calls you to use your gifts, so don’t let fear of pride hijack your fidelity to your vocation.
3. Don’t deny your weakness
If you’ve recognized pride in your heart, admit it! Rather than wasting time bemoaning how imperfect you are, work as well as you can within the confines of your weaknesses.
4. Ask God to embolden the good desires of your heart
As your good desires grow and are purified, pride will lessen. You’ll learn to be motivated by love of God, neighbor, and a more wholesome love of yourself.
5. Work to cultivate virtues that heal pride
Magnanimity and humility are two of these virtues. Magnanimity helps you do great things worthy of honor because they’re great — not because they make you look awesome. Humility makes you realize that all the things you do are because of the gifts God has bestowed upon you.
6. Remember that God calls you to do great things
It’s not humility to deny that. In fact, it’s simply another form of pride. For some people, this means creating art or music. For others, it means making discoveries in science. For most of us, we are called to do “ordinary things,” but with great love. And this love transforms those everyday tasks into precious gems in the eyes of God.
To summarize, there are two extremes you want to avoid. On the one hand, don’t shut your eyes to your sins of pride. But also don’t get tripped up by the fact that you have mixed motives or impure intentions. For the good that you do, pride will creep in. Just acknowledge it, entrust it to the Lord, and move on.
God will get you where you need to go if you simply follow Him.
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