The Chief Sin Of Man
Monday, I posted a piece about our culture’s relationship with and misunderstanding of humility. Today, I’m pondering the link between this virtue and so many others in the Christian life. The research that has me noodling on humility comes from a sociologist named Ashely Merryman. Her work reveals that people who are intellectually humble are also more l likely to be generous, faithful, and strong in leadership, while the intellectually arrogant tend to seek their own desires first, which sabotages them in those areas.
From a Biblical point of view, this makes perfect sense. After all, humility is the opposite of the first sin: pride. It was pride that created conflict in our story:
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!
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.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.
It was pride that the serpent whispered to the first human sinner:
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…”
C. S. Lewis saw pride as the gateway to all other sins. He wrote, “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea-bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
In the parable of the prodigal son, the son who swallows his pride is the one who is reunited with his father.
Humility is not only a helpful virtue for a better social life a la Ashley Merryman, it is a necessary virtue for the Christian life a la Jesus Christ.