Each week I get together with my friend Josh LaFave to talk about life, pray for each other, and discuss the most recent chapter in the book we are reading together. It is definitely one of the highlights of every week. I am constantly challenged by Josh’s fervent prayers and desire to make Christ known in every aspect of his life. I thank God regularly for his friendship.
Recently we have been working our way through Confessions by Augustine. If you have ever read this book you will understand that it cannot be sifted quickly. Augustine was an eloquent writer who was gifted in the use of words. Confessions is not only a beautiful use of words but it is also a book that reveals the nature of every human being. I can relate to many of Augustine’s statements about his own sin.
Periodically over the course of the next few months I will be reflecting on large and small portions of this great work. I think that we can all be mutually encouraged and challenged by the faith and repentance of Augustine. There is a particular sentence that stuck out to me as I was reading last week. “The blindness of humanity is so great that people are actually proud of their blindness.” Incredible. How deep is our pride? Does pride have limits? I know that my own pride runs deeper than I am often willing to admit. Many times my pride is so great that I do not even realize it. For instance, I was reading C.J. Mahaney’s chapter in Preaching the Cross the other night (which is an outstanding book). He talked about seeking out accountability and honesty as pastors from our spouses. He suggested that you ask your spouse to name three areas of character that he/she would like to see growth in you by the grace of God. So I asked my wife this question. She chuckled (never a good sign) and then said she would have to think about it (she was being gracious and also at the same time non-confrontational). However, it didn’t take me long to think of multiple areas that need growth. So I mentioned to her my stubborness. She got more specific and said that sometimes I don’t like to be wrong. Ouch! She’s right though. I have a tendency to do this with her when we are having a good discussion. She’ll say something I don’t necessarily agree with but I know is right. So I keep pressing the issue to find a way to swing it back in my favor. For what purpose? Just so I don’t feel like a fool. It’s pride. And in the midst of the moment I hardly recognize it (though I am getting better at it).
Pride is cunning and deceiving. And here Augustine says that people are so deceived that they boast about being blind. Augustine’s boastful blindness came in the fact that his studies “were deemed respectable” though they led to a profession that required high levels of deceit. There is nothing respectable about deceit. It is hurtful and void of truth. This respectable deceit reveals the mind of society in his time. It’s not about moral integrity or the consistency between means and ends. It is merely about a desired result. We see the same thing in our society. It is good to excel in everything you do. We are told many times over that winning is everything. It doesn’t matter how you get there. The point is that you get there. There is inconsistency between the means and the end. It is easy to get caught in this mentality because pride is deceiving. Indeed it is good to excel but not at the cost of integrity and truth. Sometimes people do not realize the inconsistency. Many times the inconsistency is recognized and yet it is glorified. The inconsistency is justified by the end result. Pride is deceiving. Sin is deceiving.