It was just a little plant. It had probably taken root from a seed that had blown into our cactus garden. I was amazed as I watched it grow to full bloom during the next few weeks. It was massive — at least 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. In the fall, it died; brown pods dropped onto the ground from inside its purple flowers. By winter the plant had disappeared except for a dry inch-high stub. When winter turned into spring, instead of one alien plant sprouting, dozens of them poked their heads from beneath the ground. The entire garden was overrun with purple-flowered plants (or should I say weeds). I tried to dig out each, but despite my efforts, several persisted and by the following season had developed such an intricate root system that they wrapped around my 20-year-old Cereus cactus, almost killing it. Finally, to rid ourselves of those unwelcome pests, my family and I had to spend hours digging up the entire garden. We found the roots intertwined and several inches deep, forming an almost impenetrable network. Well, you guessed it, yesterday, as I was pulling weeds in the garden, I noticed that in the spot where the original plant had been, another now familiar sprout was pushing through the soil. The cycle will start over again unless we immediately destroy that plant's roots — the source of a growth we do not want in our yard.
Plants need roots to grow. Evil also needs roots — an unholy source that will keep it alive — and one of evil's major roots is the sin of pride. God's Word teaches that pride is a sin deeply imbedded in our mind, part of our nature, a sin that gives birth to many other kinds of sins; that rears its ugly head when we are certain we have extracted it. Unless we see it for what it is, we will fall victim to it and be rendered ineffective because, "When pride comes, then comes dishonor" (Proverbs 11:2, New American Standard Bible throughout). Pride is a root sin. Just as the roots of a weed push deeply into the soil to supply essential nourishment, pride wedges itself into our character and nurtures our sense of self-importance, feeding the big "I." If we can recognize and eliminate the sin of pride, our other problems will subside and our Christian growth will abound.
What is pride?
Let's take a look at pride's distinguishing attributes: • It is the nature of pride to be self-promoting. Because we have this tendency, God instructs us that, "It is... not glory to search out one's own glory" (Proverbs 25:27). Honors we bestow upon ourselves are not true veneration, and our efforts at self-exaltation will fail because, "The Lord will tear down the house of the proud" (Proverbs 15:25). • It is also the nature of pride to debase the opinions of others. Pride convinces us that we and we alone have all the answers; that we are better than those around us, therefore, they should admire and follow us. This, according to Proverbs 30:12-13, is arrogance of the highest degree. "There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness. There is a kind — oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance." And when our eyelids are raised, we look down on others. This kind of pomposity not only alienates the admiration we seek, but, for our own welfare, we should avoid it because "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling" (Proverbs 16:18). My grandmother used to say that if your nose is too high in the air, you're apt to trip over your feet, or if it rains you may drown. High-mindedness is self-destruction — it will eventually bring us low. • The nature of pride is for us to think, we have superior intellect. Solomon, who the Bible says was the wisest man who ever lived, said: "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him" (Proverbs 26:12).
Impetus to sin
• Finally, it is the nature of pride to give impetus to other types of sins. Hatred stems from pride because vanity makes us have contempt for anything or anyone who detracts from our importance. Selfishness is another fruit of pride. It causes us to disregard the needs of others. We dwell on what we can get rather than what we can give: Another ego "blossom" stemming from the root of pride is stubbornness. Pride demands its own way and will not listen to reason." Greed is based on pride; prideful conceit makes us seek positions and acquire possessions that will make us feel more important. Jealousy and envy are by-products of arrogance. So is anger, because egotism makes us resist anyone who gets in our way. There's no doubt about it, pride's root system, once firmly entrenched, bears much evil fruit. God hates pride. Mainly because it sets us against Him, causing us to seek our way instead of His. Not only does God hate pride, He retaliates against it and chastises anyone who is highminded. "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished" (Proverbs 16:5). Pride must be rooted out of our lives!