The following was given as a talk at Morning Prayers in Memorial Church on October 27, 2014.
Who is a wise? Well, we who can learn from anyone. With that in mind, here is an excerpt from a rap by Chance the Rapper:
No weapon formed against me shall prosper
My sword look just like Michael’s
He lent it to me, this a house of God
I’m just leasing, he rent it to me
This sentence he penned it too
That’s a Gmail, he sent it to me
I can send you his contact, hit him if you in combat
Hit him if you in traffic, even if there ain’t no static
That’s my G, he got me shinin’
My hair, he made it tangled
My seed, don’t need no lining
A halo fits on an angel
And if the shoe fits, I’ll tie his and let the kiddie rap
Finally give the city back, and ask God for a piggy-back
Up on his shoulders I notice, I’m within earshot
I yell, “Thanks for makin’ us in your image
You got a good sense of hubris”
I’d like to focus on that last and most powerful line that Chance says to God, “Thanks for making us in your image, you got a good sense of hubris.”
Hubis is a Greek word that means being so confident that you begin to think you are godlike. This wordplay is fantastic because Chance claims God is hubristic because, well, God is godlike, which explains why God has a “good sense of hubris.” However, when God made us in His image, He intended us to not be hubristic, because we are not God. Instead, He intended us to have Sophrosyne, which is a Greek word for the complete opposite of hubris. Sophrosyne is self-control, humility, and balance. When God made us in His image, He intended us to have confidence, but our confidence must be in Him, so that through Him we are made powerful!
Augustine and Aquinas both taught that pride was the root of sin, the essential vice, the utmost evil. All other sins are concomitant negative results of pride. It was through pride that the devil became the devil, it was pride that was the first sin in the garden. Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
So how can we reach an ideal state of Sophrosyne?
First, let me start of by stating that I can speak on humility, because I am the most humble guy you will ever meet. I’m only joking. The paradox behind this joke illuminates a problem with humility: the point of humility is to decrease so that God, and others, may increase, but if you are proud of your humility then you have not made yourself decrease. On the other side of humility, being humble does not mean that smart women should think they are dumb or that handsome men should think they are ugly, instead humility is when you recognize the gifts God gave you and you use them to glorify God. You can glorify God no matter your occupation, whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a janitor, a student, or a consultant. You can use your gifts to advance God’s kingdom. Be thankful for your gifts, know where they came from, and use them to glorify the Lord. Once you have done this you will have reached Sophrosyne.