Hubris: the arrogant pride that just KNOWS I can do this, am this, am all that. The presumptions that make me judge and evaluate and look down my long nose at those around me, take up jobs that aren't mine to take, that make decisions based on brain and my own willful ambition rather than humility and HIS will.
The word hubris has been rolling around in my head for the last couple of weeks. On and off.
Four times recently (yep, I've been keeping track), four different people have spoken of something in their own lives as being a mark of hubris. I might not have noticed the first time (though I can tell you the first time it was my middle sister who used the word), when hubris began to appear in conversation following that, I felt like I was being hit over the head.
Like God was saying, "Take a look at yourself, Carolyn." Wake up and smell what you've been stepping in, as my daughters would say.
So here's my look.
I grew up in a smart family in a smart town. Just recently I saw an article that ranked my home town as the 10th smartest town in America. That's because the main industry in Pullman, Washington is a university. Well, that and farming. And, as we liked to say, most of our farmers go to college--at least for a while! So when I say my family was smart in a smart town, I'm saying something.
And that's when it hits me. LIKE A LEAD BALLOON.
Being smart isn't a virtue. Brilliance, education, professional success, advanced degrees are all missing from the Bible. Well, I take that back. They aren't missing--they're actually pointed out as hindrances, ie, see Pharisees and Sadducees. All my inflated notions of what counts, when I don't think about it, but just let myself drift is my hubris--my worldly pride that I'm all that and more, that I'm more that others who are less than me.
It's not a bad thing to succeed, of course. God intends us to be good at what He asks us to be, to do well what He calls us to do for Him. It's the 'pride of life,' the presumption that we are better than others because of something in us, something after our names, perhaps, or our names themselves, that is the problem. This is hubris.
In Greek tragedies, the concept of hubris necessitates the concept of nemesis. Nemesis means an agent of downfall. The enemy is our downfall, of course. And this is what the enemy most wants us to feel. He loves that we feel superior to others. He wants us to look around a room and think we're the smartest or most educated or most whatever sitting there. He wants us to see castes wherever we go, climb every ladder, look for every class. He wants us striving for our own sake, so that IN OURSELVES we find value. So that, as our nemesis, he can cause our downfall. Our final downfall. Our pride of life is his best friend--his active ingredient in the work of making us fall.
Thanks be to God, though. Isn't this always true?
Thanks be to God.
He not only wants us wise, rather than smart, humble rather than proud, He actually gives us the way to become what He wants us to be. EVERY single day. In whatever life He's given you--with large responsibilities or small ones--He asks you to die to yourself. He asks this of me. He asks this even knowing my hubris. Even knowing exactly how difficult it is for me. But as He asks it, He gives the WAY to do it. He says, "Come to me, MY way is the way." We cannot try hard enough to drop our pride by our own selves. There's no possible way. We can only die to that pride. Daily. That's why Jesus added that key word when He first told His followers what He's still saying--"You must die to yourselves." DAILY. And that's why the One who can do it dwells within us. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of classes, intelligence, achievement. He is an equal opportunity lover. An equal-opportunity savior. He saved me. He loves through me.
Yes, He loves through me.
And He's daily changing me as He helps me die to my instinctive hubris.
I am not my own. What I was born with is not who I have to be.
Thanks be to God.