The Reading: Proverbs 6:16-19
“… haughty eyes …” (v.17) RSV
When we speak of the Seven Deadly Sins we may immediately think of the Catholic list: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. This list is good and comprehensive, and certainly Pride is the key to all sins.
Indeed, Pride leads a different list which we shall be considering over the coming weeks. The Book of Proverbs gives a wide ranging list of things that the Lord “hates” and which are “an abomination to him” (v.16).
The first one, then, is “haughty eyes” (v.17). This feeling of superiority is a disaster. The original sin was Adam and Eve’s desire to be “like God” (Genesis 3:5). They were tempted by the pride that they knew better than God; the ‘fruit’ would not kill them but would make them wise. How wrong they were, how far they fell! Surely the saying is true: “Pride comes before a fall”.
The first Couple were of course only following in the steps of the Tempter. Satan had already gone the same way before them. His fall is well described by the Prophet: “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven … I will set my throne on high …” (Isaiah 14:13). If you read the passage (see Explore More below) you will see that five times he says “I will”. That is the nature of pride.
We are all infected with this fatal tendency, although some of us suffer from inverted pride. We either have too much confidence in ourselves and think we can do without God and can climb up over others, or else we have so low an opinion of ourselves that we do not believe that God has done a good job in making us, and do not believe that he can do anything for us or through us.
Both these positions are an offence to God Almighty. “Haughty eyes” are to be avoided. As Paul says, the disciple “is not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment …” (Romans 12:3).
Lord, though you have made me unique, keep me from looking down on others. Teach me humility. Amen.
1 What was Satan’s sin?
2 What does the Lord do to the haughty eyes?