Saturday, February 22, 2014
Pride ( Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk )
Pride is a most abominable sin, but hardly anyone recognizes it since it is hidden deep in the heart. Not knowing one's self is the beginning of pride. This ignorance blinds a man, and thus he becomes full of pride. O that man would know himself! He would know his own misfortune, poverty, and wretchedness; he would never become full of pride. But man is so wretched that he does not see and know his misfortune and wretchedness.
Pride is known by its deeds as a tree is known by its fruits. But let us see what are the fruits of the bitter seed of pride:
1. A proud man seeks honor, glory, and praise by every means. He always desires to appear as something, and to direct, command, and rule others. But he is powerfully angered and embittered at whoever may prevent his desire.
2. He complains, he is displeased, and he curses when deprived of honor and leadership. "What have I done wrong? Why am I at fault? Is this what my labors and service merit?" It often drives a man to kill himself.
3. He begins labors that are beyond his strength which he is not able to manage. O man! Why do you take up burdens which you cannot bear?
4. Out of his self-will he interferes in the affairs of others. He desires to direct everyone and everywhere, though he himself does not know what he is doing, so greatly is he blinded by pride.
5. He boasts of himself shamelessly and exalts himself. "I did thus and so. I rendered such and such service to society." O man! You enumerate your services, but why do you not mention your shortcomings? While it is shameful for you to proclaim those, you should also be ashamed to praise yourself.
6. He looks down on and humiliates other people. "He is a base man, he is useless," and so on. O man! He is a man just as you are, for we are all men. He is a sinner, yes, but I think that you cannot deny that name either. He transgressed in something, or is a sinner, but you, too, in another way, or perhaps in the same way. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
7. He does not submit, he does not obey his authorities and his parents. The proud have a stiff and unbending neck. They always wish to establish and execute the will of their desires.
8. The goods that they have they ascribe to themselves, to their own efforts and labors, and not to God. O man! What can you have of your own self, who came naked out of your mother's womb? What can you have should God, the source of all good, not give it to you? What can our effort and labor accomplish without His help, Who alone is able do all things, and without Whom everyone is as nothing, as a shadow without a body?
9. He greatly dislikes reproach and admonition. He thinks himself pure, though he be all sullied.
10. He is impatient, is displeased, complains, and often even curses when in destruction, in contempt, in misfortunes and calamities.
11. He displays haughtiness and is somewhat pompous, etc. in word and deed. These are the fruits of pride, hateful to God and man. The fruits which it engenders are bitter. "For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Lk. 16:15). Wherefore it is also written, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased" (Lk. 14:11).
The virtue opposed to pride is humility. But as far as pride is loathsome and abominable, so welcome and lovely is humility to God and men. God Who is great and exalted looks on nothing so lovely as on a humble and compunctionate heart. Whence even the Most Holy Theotokos says of herself, "For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden" (Lk. 1:48).
When pride retreats from a man, humility begins to dwell in him, and the more pride is diminished, so much more does humility grow. The one gives way to the other as to its opposite. Darkness departs and light appears. Pride is darkness, but humility is light.
As we consider our own selves and come to know our misfortune and wretchedness, we shall have reason enough to be humble. We are born naked and with a cry. We live in calamity, misfortune, and sins. We die with fear, disease, and sighing. We are buried in the earth and return to the earth. There it is not evident where the rich man lies, where the poor, where the noble and where the lowly, where the master and where the servant, where the wise and where the foolish. There they are all made equal, for they all return to the earth. Why, then, should earth and corruption be conceited?
Beloved Christians! Let us know our misfortune and wretchedness, and "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (1 Pet. 5:6). Let us know, beloved, that we Christians are Christ's, Who is meek and humble of heart. It is a shameful thing, and very unbecoming of Christians, to be full of pride when Christ, God great and exalted, humbled Himself. It is a shameful thing for servants to be proud when their Master is humble. There is nothing as unbecoming and indecent of Christians as pride, and nothing shows a Christian as much as humility.
From humility it is known that a man is a true disciple of Jesus, meek and humble of heart. If we wish to show evidence that we are true Christians, let us learn from Christ to be humble as He Himself enjoins us, "Learn of Me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart" (Mt. 11:29). Let us engrave and deepen in our memory the saying of the Apostle now explained, "For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:6).
Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk