Read: Luke 18:9-14

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (v. 14)

According to St. Augustine, pride is the sin that led Satan to rebel against God. The medieval church believed that pride was the root of all sins and was therefore the most dangerous. In his epic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton imagined that Satan’s fall came from his refusal to serve anyone but himself. “Better to reign in hell,” Satan says, “than to serve in heaven.” Pride is the sin of forgetting—or ignoring—our need for God. This is why C. S. Lewis described pride as “the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Some of the proudest people you meet may also be the most religious. Consider the Pharisee in this parable: he fasts, he tithes, he prays. But the sad truth is that the Pharisee hasn’t prayed at all, not in any real sense, because he has created a god who is too small to require worship. The Pharisee’s version of god exists to reassure him that, because the Pharisee is such a great guy, he doesn’t really need God.

Real worship demands humility. It requires us to acknowledge our utter dependence upon God for salvation. That is why the tax collector goes home from his prayer justified. He knows he needs God’s mercy.

What kind of a God do you worship? Has your pride made God a cheerleader—there to cheer you on, or cheer you up, but never to bring you to your knees in repentance? —Jane Olson

As you pray, ask God for his mercy on you, a sinner, and ask him to teach you to depend wholly on him.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.