“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”  (1 John 2: 15-17)

Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple.”  (Job 5:2)

Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Hebrews 12: 16)

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.  For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”  (James 3: 13-16)

Pride has layers.  The virtues of humility and meekness deal with much more than just making sure we don’t behave in overtly arrogant ways.

Pride is like a giant ugly weed that grows in plain view along the surface but also has many deep roots that are hidden.

Some of those roots are selfishness, discontentment, jealousy, self-pity, bitterness, resentment, and hatred, and they all begin with the subtle irritation or frustration we experience when we believe we “deserve better” than whatever has happened to us; we deserve better than the way that person treated us, than to be given less, than to not have been acknowledged and praised, than to have been left out or slighted, than to have been criticized, than to have been mistreated.

Since we have no control over the fact that what we got was less than what we believe we’re worthy of, we feel justified harboring and nursing these dark roots in our hearts.  And as we do, we open wide the door for Satan to enter into our hearts and tear us apart.  Our lives and the lives of our loved ones are deeply impacted, and for many, destroyed.

This is why Jesus commands us to forgive! (Matthew 18:21-22)  And not just to forgive, but to actively love.  To repay good for evil.  To bless those who curse us.  To be kind to those who mistreat us.  (Luke 6:27-31)  Indeed, we are commanded to do the exact opposite of what our flesh and hearts naturally want to do, which is to resent and hate, to pay back evil for evil, to curse those who curse us and seek vengeance when we’re wronged.

If our wicked hearts find it hard to be obedient to Christ’s command to love in all circumstances, may we remember the story of our Lord; that he was laughed at, mocked and scorned his whole life.  May we remember that when he returned to his own hometown, to his family and community, to help them and heal them with miracles, they rejected him and didn’t believe in him. (Matthew 13:53-58) May we remember how often he was criticized, looked down upon and scoffed at.  May we remember that, after everything he’d done for them, every single one of his friends deserted him in his darkest hour. (Matthew 26:55-56)  Most of all, let us always remember that though he never sinned against anyone, the very people that he came to save spit in his face, humiliated him, beat him, had him stripped and tortured, demanded he be killed in the most horrific way ever known and then pointed at him and laughed while he was dying. (Matthew 27:39-44)

If anyone who ever lived had a legitimate reason to justify yielding to the dark roots of pride, it was Jesus.  But he did not yield.  He chose to forgive.  He chose to love.  He is the ultimate example of humility.  We are not better than our Christ.  We do not “deserve better” than whatever circumstance offends our pride and, no matter how justified we may feel, we are sinning against our Lord Jesus if we harbor any of pride’s dark roots in our hearts.

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