C.S. Lewis: Preferring to Play Itself

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Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

“When I said that your besetting sin was Indolence and mine Pride I was thinking of the old classification of the seven deadly sins: They are Gula (Gluttony), Luxuria (Unchastity), Accidia (Indolence), Ira (Anger), Superbia (Pride), Invidia (Envy), Avaritia (Avarice). Accidia, which is sometimes called Tristitia (despondence) is the kind of indolence which comes from indifference to the good—the mood in which though it tries to play on us we have no string to respond. Pride, on the other hand, is the mother of all sins, and the original sin of Lucifer—so you are rather better off than I am. You at your worst are an instrument unstrung: I am an instrument strung but preferring to play itself because it thinks it knows the tune better than the Musician.”

C.S. Lewis in “Letter to Arthur Greeves dated 10 February 1930” in Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis, edited by Paul F. Ford (New York: Harper One, 2008) 11.

Avarice is one of the enemies of generosity and one of the seven deadly sins. But the mother of all sins is pride. Often coupled with it is haughtiness or high-mindedness.

What’s this got to do with generosity? We must maintain a humble posture, especially if God is blessing us, and we are living, giving, serving, and loving generously. Pride can bring us down, fast and hard.

How does this come into view, practically speaking? A steward is prideful when he or she makes decisions about money without consulting the Master. Remember, it’s God’s money!

Consider another example. “I earned it. It’s mine to do as I choose.” Again, that’s prideful. But we can swing the other way with pride too. “Look how good I am doing!”

What’s the lesson today? Ask God if you are preferring to play your own music instead of letting the Musician make music out of your life. If we are honest with ourselves, we all sometimes exhibit pride.

Lord have mercy, forgive us. String us and make music with our lives.