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Confessions: Lofty Pride

Before I was out of my boyhood, I had heard of the eternal life promised to us by the lowly embodiment of the Master, our God, who came down to meet our lofty pride.—Saint Augustine, Confessions 1.17

This morning as I began reading, Augustine’s first sentence stopped me. Let it stop you, and think about what Augustine is saying: The “lowly” embodiment of Christ meets “our lofty pride.” Think of all the most powerful people in the world. Think of all the richest people in the world. Think of all the most influential people in the world. Think of all the most famous people in the world. How ‘lofty’ are they in our eyes? Yet, though the majority of us do not have these privileges, our pride is just as ‘lofty’ as theirs.

Our pride reaches for the heavens, not looking up to God, but looking down on others. But no matter how high we build, God still needs to come down. Our highest peak is God’s lowest valley. It is pride that makes us say with our ancestors, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” (Gen 11:4) and it is Christ who says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (Jn 6:51)

The highest heavens belong to the Lord,

but the earth he has given to mankind.

—Psalm 115:16

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians

—Exodus 3:7-8

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! —Philippians 2:5-8

Lord, make me humble.

Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.


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