The Essential Vice
There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.
The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
—from Mere Christianity
1956 The Last Battle (the final volume of The Chronicles of Narnia) is published by The Bodley Head, London.
A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy (6:12-15).
A college student loved to play practical jokes. Whenever he found an opportunity, he pulled a gag on one of his friends. No one was safe from his onslaught. Eventually, the people he associated with avoided him, and hated to be around him. Only when he was alone and lonely did he realize that he had been wrong. He attempted to reconcile with his friends, but they had too often heard his apologies, just to be the butt of another unkind joke. The young man who chose to live by the practical joke had to pay the price.
Our actions affect so greatly how our lives will go. We do things which sometimes seem insignificant to us, but to others they are important. One of our largest responsibilities as Christians is to guard our words and actions carefully, always making sure that what we do to others is what we would want to have done to us. Wickedness can take seemingly harmless forms, but once the seed is planted, no matter how small, it can grow forth into a mighty tree, with roots which reach deep.
prayer: Lord I wish to do no one harm. Would that I could, allow me to spread goodness and light wherever I might go. Save me from the calamity which will befall those who live carelessly or foolishly. Amen.