Without faith there can be no eternal life.
With no eternal life only this life remains,
and then death,
and then worse.
I’ve been sitting at the feet of Bernard of Clairvaux, learning of the steps of pride that lead to spiritual disaster.
First comes a pernicious curiosity. (here)
Then a mishandling, misuse, and abuse of the right. (here)
Then a persistent preference of the ignoble and easy path over the elevated way. (here)
The next four steps are all of the same family, sharing bits and pieces of each other. On a staircase they would be steps of different length, and drop, and invite the stumble like a candle invites a moth.
In the words of Bernard of Clairvaux, “Opinions fly around, weighty words resound. He interrupts a questioner, he answers one who does not ask. He himself puts the questions, he himself solves them…not to edify anyone but to display his learning. He is able to edify but does not try to….In the multitude of words you may recognize boastfulness.”
If this were just not such an accurate description of who I used to be I’d write more about it. If it were not something I must always fight I’d tell you I would never step here again. But it’s too familiar in my past, and follows me like a stray even now. God’s grace on this one for me…
Please God more Grace – I never want this to be – ever again.
I covered every inch of this step before I tumbled past it. Other than confession, I really can’t add a thing. Bernard describes this step so precisely that to add would be to subtract.
Step 5: “Singularity”
Bernard sums this one up simply, “I am not as other men are.”
For 20 of my 26 years as a Christian I would place myself in situations destined for a fall. I would think my faith to be superior, because my knowledge was deep, and my relationship with God, intimate So I could be where other men could not – and not sin – because I was better.
I hate to admit this publicly. I worry that you might read this and leave. But note, it was for 20 of my 26 years. Knowledge came first for me, wisdom came later – and at a great price.
This pride begins with a desire to show oneself as a different breed – a better one. It is a lie of first magnitude. Solomon knew this, he would see things and people promoted as new. But he was keenly aware that there was nothing new under the sun.
Aside from Our Lord, take the most significant person ever to live, and remove their life from history. It would mean nothing to this earth. Like water would rush into a river if a dam were opened wide, someone else would have stepped in to replace the missing piece.
Nature abhors a vacuum and in the history of humanity there has only been one irreplaceable person.
Satan was the first to want to be “singular”. We never invent sin, we only repeat it.
You know how I crashed down this stairway.
Thank you for keeping the flame burning at the top of the steps,
for keeping watch each day for your prodigal.
I’m sorry it has taken so long for my spirit to be as it should have been so many years ago.
I’m grateful for the crushing, the defeat, the failure, that destroyed me to build me.
Please Lord, you know I can speak, and write, and hide among the words.
Please keep my words only true – only true.
Please keep my life a reflection of what I say I believe.
Help me remain watchful because pride is an ever crouching lion in the tall grass – and a siren call beckoning sweetly.
Cause me to remember these steps because to know them is to see the lion and recognize the Siren.
Five steps down – seven to go…