I saw a friend last night whose son was recently arrested in a neighboring state (where he lived) for driving while under the influence of heroin. The son went to rehab—for the second time this year—and charges are pending for him in that state. Last night, the son was with my friend as we mutually did a service project together. I struck up a conversation with the son, asking him how he was doing and how his wife and three young girls were handling life. He was upbeat, noting that they were moving into the area from the neighboring state. Some things he said included, “Man, they are trying to put me in jail in that state! I had to get out of there!” “My job was just too stressful. I need to do something less stressful.” “I was on the road too much. I just need to drive less and work less hours.” I nodded and smiled, but inside, my stomach turned. In that short conversation, I wondered if I was talking to someone who was truly ready for a full recovery. My heart grieved a bit, since as a former addict, I remembered being there myself many times facing my biggest enemy: pride.
Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin recently said that the biggest sin he struggled with was pride. I agree with Lin’s assessment, but not for the same reasons that he likely said it. I agree with him because pride is actually the basis for every sin that we commit. And in that case, everyone’s biggest sin is pride, because every sin is a direct result of our belief that we know better than God—the very definition of pride. I wanted to write this series on pride because pride is so prevalent in our lives–especially mine. So let’s talk about the subtle ways pride whispers into our ears and causes us to sin.
One of the loudest things pride says to us is, “It ain’t my fault.” (Did I do that?) This lie is especially a problem for addicts. We tend to blame everyone else—our family, our job, stress, our past, our desires—we will do anything possible to not take the blame for our issues. Sometimes we blame others, sometimes we even blame God (“He never should have given me these desires!”, says the porn addict). But the key to silencing this prideful voice is personal responsibility. We make our own choices, and we need to admit our mistakes. The Bible says that if we do, God will forgive us and cleanse us from our sins (1 John 1:9). Taking responsibility for your actions is one of the best lessons you can learn, as a child AND as an adult. When you make a mistake, you should own up to it, not blame others or your circumstances. My friend’s son spoke nothing of his own misdeeds—he did not own up his mistake of choosing illegal drugs. Instead, he blamed “the system” for what it wanted to do to him and his job for being too stressful and too mobile.
However, when we are ready to be healthy, when we are ready to move forward in life, it’s no longer about blame or making static, circumstantial changes—it’s about accepting responsibility so that real change can take place inside you. You see it in the eyes of every addict who has moved beyond blame and into accountability. They begin to make better choices about things that really matter. They are no longer afraid to admit their mistakes—because humility has assured them that to err is human. If the first step is admitting that you have a problem, then silencing this prideful voice is where most people begin in recovery.
Pride is sneaky, and it shows up in every area of our lives. That’s why we have to be aware of its many voices, dialects, and sounds. As we continue to break down our pride, both in this series and in our lives, may God make us more discerning about how to increase our humility and become more like Him!
What are some other ways pride says, “It ain’t my fault?”