C.S. Lewis said that pride was far more difficult to deal with in the Christian life than other sin like anger or greed. Pride is a powerful force that blinds us. The only effective antidote against pride is humility. That may be why Jesus often taught about humility. Once, when Jesus noticed how the guests were conniving to get the places of honor at the table at a prominent event, he told them a parable (Luke 14:1-14). The story Jesus told sounds like instruction in social etiquette, but it’s really about having the right kind of attitude in life. The first part of the story is about how not to seat yourself. Let’s imagine the scene as the guests arrive. They look the place over and see where they want to sit. One proud guest says to himself, “That is my seat,” and of course he takes it. People watch as he takes the seat, and he says to himself—“They are thinking he must be really important.”
The problem is that is not how the host sees it. Then suddenly the proud guest looks up, and there is the host. The host asks him to move because he has reserved that seat for someone more important. His embarrassment knows no limit. The second part of the story is about how to seat yourself so this kind of thing doesn’t happen to you. Jesus says look for the lowest seat, and then it won’t be a problem when the host asks you to move up.
Jesus lived out humility, and in so doing he demonstrated it is possible to overcome pride. Jesus summed up everything with these words: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Jesus hated the pride that pretends to be humble. He wants the real thing. If we want authenticity, then let us strive to be like Jesus.
Once when I was working at my computer, one of my little granddaughters was sitting in my lap. She was digging in my shirt pocket. As I looked out of the corner of my eye, I watched the stuff all being extracted piece by piece from my pocket. She examined each piece very meticulously; my glasses, my pens, my papers, and I thought that was all I had, but she kept putting her little hand deep into my pocket. I didn’t pay much attention because I thought she had pretty well cleaned me out. After a few minutes, I noticed she was rather quiet and wasn’t fidgeting. I looked down at her, and she had found a toothpick and had it in the corner of her mouth exactly the way I do. She was imitating me. The one thing we want to do is learn to imitate Christ and not this world.
We want to learn to imitate him and not the people around us. We also want to live in such a way that those who are watching us will be imitating Christ when they imitate us.