We all love to play. Whether it’s sports, video games, puzzles, or even L.A.R.P-ing (I’m not judging), everyone loves the joy of playing something. But how many times have you played a game of some sort where everything was going great until someone started getting ultra competitive and ruined the moment? It’s pride. The honest truth is that I can be that person. I’m not much into sports, but ask my friends how I get when I play Dutch Blitz. It’s a card game about speed and ferocity, and I’ve been known to come really close to flipping tables during the game. It’s not something I am proud of, but it comes so naturally. I can let my pridefulness and ego run away with itself. I become a sore loser, and if I don’t win, it affects my mood more than it should. There are many things that pride affects, but for me, it can often steal the joy of something as simple as having a good time.
I remember one time during college that my friends and I went bridge jumping over the James River in Virginia. It was a walking bridge that was about 30-35 feet above the water. That doesn’t sound like that high, but when you’re climbing over the railing and one little slip happens, it means something gets broken. I walked up to the railing, stared out across the open sky, took a deep breath, and climbed over. Once over the railing, I stepped down onto the beam below the bottom of the bridge and stopped. The tricky part was that when you climbed over, you had to turn around and face the open air. I forgot to mention that I’m afraid of heights! I turned around, and remember thinking, “It’s now or never,” so I just leapt outward, straightened my body like a pencil (for the sake of having future children), and loved every second of plummeting into the river. It. was. magnificent. I was so amped. A mere five seconds of falling made me feel like I had guzzled five cups of coffee. I ended up jumping one more time, and was done.
While my friends and I were being daredevils and jumping, one of our friends was not. I was so amped with pride that I jumped and was able to repress my fear of heights, that I totally belittled his fear. I was peer pressuring him into jumping, not for his sake, but because I was so proud that I jumped. He looked at me and snapped, “You’re the reason I’m not jumping!” It took me by surprise, and I shut up.
Pride is one of the seven deadly sins because it can be one of the things that keeps us and others from true joy.
Pride gets in the way of having fun.
I heard a sermon a couple of months ago where the speaker mentioned some rules of play. I thought, “Huh. Interesting topic for a sermon, but this should be interesting.” It stuck with me, and I realized there is a real connection between pride and joy. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins because it can be one of the things that keeps us and others from true joy. It also keeps us from experiencing Jesus in the fullest sense possible. Case in point: Adam and Eve. They essentially had the first playground, but it wasn’t good enough. Here are some rules of play to battle pride when it comes to lightheartedness:
Jump Fences – Jumping fences is about intentionally doing things that don’t make logical sense. Fences are barriers. At the bridge my pride said, “You are more of a man because you overcame an obstacle.” I immediately skipped to this theory, or assumption, that my friend was a wuss, and that he was going to have a great time if he would just jump. Pride assumes what we know is best, but jumping fences is about unorthodox combinations. Could it possibly make more sense that someone wouldn’t jump off a bridge than they would?
Ask stupid questions – One of the only things that can keep us from further knowledge is the inability to ask questions. If we don’t ask, we won’t know. How many times have you not prayed for something because it sounded stupid or too small? Jesus wants our prayers no matter how small. This is our pride ultimately making up God’s mind for Him. Now, it doesn’t mean every single prayer will be answered the way we want them to be answered, but having an open dialog with God is better than keeping our mouths shut.
Make hope visible – some need to experience a visual representation of hope. This is about our actions. It’s like terribly singing karaoke to make a sad friend laugh, or being a goofy parent in public, or praying before a meal at a restaurant. All of these things could be visual representations of hope to an onlooker. We are to live out the hope of the gospel in front of others and within groups of other people in order for them to see Jesus. Pride stands in the way of this because we a) are afraid of looking stupid b) are afraid of rejection, or c) don’t want to lose credibility of some sort.
We need to play. The times that I remember the most are the times where I’ve made a complete fool of myself, had fun, and came out alive on the other side. Pride is a very real enemy to play, and it’s time we fought back. Is there a fence you can jump, a stupid question you could ask, or a way you could make hope visible to someone this week? Have you spent too much time watching others play, but not getting in the game? Don’t let pride steal your joy, and please send me your videos of you singing karaoke. Seriously. If you can’t really sing, even better.