The Antidote to Pride and Vanity

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"Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

The twins, Pride and Vanity, have plagued the human race since that grievous day the apple was eaten in the Garden of Eden. They know no barrier, are intimidated by no wall of protection, and have no care for status or economy. Pride and Vanity attack all equally. We should tremble.

Our sin will find us out. There is no doubt about that. But Pride says it will not be so. Pride props himself up in our hearts as the most faithful of friends. He keeps us from despair. He whispers to us of our value and worth. He sings over us the love song of self-admiration. He won’t back down and he won’t let go. Of the two, Pride is the meaner.

Vanity is timid. He panders, shifts, sways, flip-flops, changes with the wind. He has our best interest in mind, maintaining high views of ourselves in other’s minds. To have even a little Vanity with a lot of Pride causes us to care just enough to be nice, but not enough to be happy. Vanity, in a sense, is the governor of Pride. Left alone, Pride will run through the heart like Alexander the Great, conquering every land with unquenchable thirst. Vanity is the regulator for worldwide conquest, beacuse he must ensure that a majority likes us in the end.

But these twins, though their power is great, have an enemy even greater. His name is Humility. Like the tongue he is small in stature, yet the most powerful weapon to wound or heal. So he first wounds, then heals. He first tears down, then builds. He first destroys, then repairs.

Humility cares enough about the self to ruin it all so that it might in the end be saved. Pride, given enough time, will destroy beyond repair. Vanity, left unhindered, will cause self to wither away. But Humility destroys early and frees forever. Humility gives the self the proper order of things, restoring peace where fear once ruled. Humility alone opens us up to God and to others that we would live a proper life, fitting of the kingdom of God.

Humility comes between Pride and Vanity and breaks the bond between the two. The twin towers crumble and something new begins to grow.

Pride is a very common failing. I believe that. But Humility is the antidote. Choose wisely the friends we make. Some give life, some take it away.