Pride Stems from Humility

–          Father, what does it mean when they say that God tempts us through humility and charity, when we are humble and charitable?

–          It is not God who does that; but the enemy, the enemy is the one who tempts us. If we are charitable, well, after we have done anything virtuous, the enemy’s voice will follow, whispering into our hears: “Good…! you’ve done good!” That is what the psalm says: “Let them be ashamed and confounded… Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.”*.

St. Silouan says that it is very hard for man to learn how to keep the Grace, because as soon as one receives it, the tempter says: “Oh, wow…! you have received the Grace…! But why have you received it?… I think it’s because you are charitable and because you have fasted…!” – and so on and so forth. That is what goes on in one’s soul in such situations. Therefore, it is not God that does that. God allows the enemy to tempt us; therefore, after every little good deed that we have done, we’d better be sure that we will be tempted.

Let’s say that you’ve just been charitable and have given alms. The enemy will whisper into your ear right away how good you are and how much joy you have given to X or Y as a result of your good deed and what a good person you have been.

Let us forget about our good deeds as soon as we have done them. The way I see this goes something like: “God, I will forget all my good deeds, but please, forget all my bad deeds.” And I think that by doing that we will not divert from our path — by not remembering any of our good deeds, by saying: “I have done nothing good in my life.”

Yes… So that is what all this means. Even when we are humble – St. John Cassian and St. John of the Ladder tell us that “pride is the only passion that stems from virtues”. The more virtues we acquire, the more “reasons” and opportunities pop up for the enemy to tempt us: “Ohh… you are also charitable!… You also pray!… And you fast!… And you are also humble!…” See what I mean? So pride is the only passion that springs from our virtues. Now that’s a scary thought! What are we to do, no longer work upon being virtuous? No, we must work upon them! But we must never lend our ear to the voice that tells us: “You have done well, you have done well.”

Fr. Savatie Bastovoi


*(Psalm 70, KJV)

One thought on “Pride Stems from Humility

  1. Valahia says:

    I have recently come across this post and thought it would pair up well with the text above:

    God allows temptations so that they might rouse us to remember Him. When we call upon Him, He acts as though He does not hear us so that we multiply our supplications and cry out His holy name, in fear of the various passions. Then, through pain of the entreaties, our heart is sanctified, and through experience we learn the weakness of our lame nature. And thus we realize in practice that without God’s help we are not able to do anything.

    This deep experience is acquired with the blood of the heart and remains indelible; it becomes a foundation for the remainder of one’s life. The grace of God leaves and comes again, but experience never leaves, because it has been branded within the heart. And no matter how much Satan praises the heart, it points to what is indelibly written within its depths, that without God it is impossible to do anything.

    If there were no temptations, pride and other passions would have turned us into other Lucifers. But our good Father, God, allows afflictions to come upon us so that we may be guarded by humility, which will lighten the burden of our sins.

    When we are still in our youth, we must be tempted, for youth is easily derailed. In time the war will cease and the desired peace will come. Just have courage and patience. Do not despair, no matter how much the passions may fight you. God loves one who is fought against and fights back. Be brave, and pray also for me, the indolent, the unclean, the unworthy, the abomination!

    Taken from the book: Counsels from the Holy Mountain by Elder Ephraim

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