The next seven chapters are to engage “beginners” of this Dark Night of the Soul to look at their imperfections through the seven deadly sins…Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth.
P R I D E
We may be very fervent and diligent in our spiritual exercises and practices, but what it may cause in us is a certain kind of secret pride. We may find ourselves condemning others in our hearts when we notice that they do not have the same kind of devotion that we vainly speak of in our desires.
In our secret pride, our flesh often increases the fervor and desire to perform these spiritual practices more frequently. We are then blinded to all these works and virtues becoming meaningless and in fact, becoming vices…Spiritual Pride
Sometimes, when our spiritual masters (pastor, counselor, sponsor, coach, director, confessor, mentor, sage…I recognize most Christians do not have a relationship with any of these people) do not approve of our addictive spirit and behavior we may charge them with not understanding us or believing in us, or support us. But in reality we are gaining greatness in being able to move mountains, but we do not have love.
Spiritual pride, a damnable vice for certain, causes some to fall into certain ecstasies in public. It causes us to want to be seen and known among men. The flesh is always wanting to be on display and it uses shiny religious fig leaves which is the unholy habitation of the devil. The Pharisees, those inglorious bastards, with smoke and mirrors and cloak and dagger used the Law to show off their flesh/spiritual pride. But they felt first hand in the person of Jesus how God opposes pride and then they did what pride is bent to do…silence and damn God if they must and they did…for three days.
In our luscious ambitions to be the favorite pupil of our spiritual director we seek to live a sunny-side up life. We are to embarrassed to expose our fleshly appetites and attachments, less our confessors should think less of us. Pride seeks to hide so we conveniently find someone else, even God, to make our confessions of fault, frailty and failure. But we dare not tell on ourselves to those that we intend to impress. It would be like one of my children doing some wrong and then going down the street to confess the misbehavior to some other parent in the neighborhood. That mother or father has no jurisdiction over the soul of my son or daughter and therefore they can offer them guidance, but not correction, forgiveness, mercy, counsel, love.
Another mishandling of secret pride is that it eats us up inside, because we cannot stomach ourselves being less than we have gloated and promoted ourselves to be. We have failed to accept the limitations of our humanity, that we are but dust. We have not judged ourselves soberly, and we are black out drunk on the slobber-knocker of pride. Having to face the hangover of the reality that I am NOT God, not perfect, fractured and broken in my design was and is a wake-up call that keeps saving me from myself. Lessons that were planted in my heart by Pastor Tom Allen and fertilized by my ministry leader years late, Rod Pruitt.
When we do go to God with our imperfections (most Christians only ask for forgiveness, they never actually make the confession of the wrong) it’s so he will finally take from us our ghastly deficiencies and leave us a prescription for some narcotic of peace. We do not realize that God, whose grace is sufficient, will not take this imperfection from us because it would actually make us prouder.
We have to learn to be transformed in and through our imperfections not to be excused from them or gloss over them with a social media airbrush. We do not hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, but a standard of GRACE. God gives grace to the humble, but he opposes the proud.