A little while ago, Connie and I noticed some stuff that looked like dirt or dust appearing on a wall near our refrigerator. I assumed it was some potted soil that had fallen out of a hanging plant we have above that spot, so I vacuumed it up and didn’t give it a second thought. But then it showed up again the next time I was vacuuming. The next time, Connie was vacuuming and saw what looked like a white ant. I had seen “white ants” growing up in the woods of Tennessee. I suddenly realized we had termites!
Before I knew it, our wonderful landlord had called a pest control specialist and he was in our house taking care of business. He drilled some holes in the concrete foundation of our duplex and injected a chemical that spreads throughout the termite colony and kills them a day or two after they come into contact with it.
But here’s the thing, I learned a lot about termites and I think I’ve found the perfect analogy for what is arguably the worst sin: pride. C. S. Lewis said of pride, “It was through Pride that the Devil became the Devil; it is the complete anti-God state of mind. Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. Pride is a spiritual cancer. It is my besetting sin.”
One thing I learned about termites is that they are capable of entering your property through a 1/64 inch hole. How big of a hole is that? It’s about as big as the period at the end of this sentence. Pride has the same ability to infiltrate my life through tiny, tiny holes. In fact, I can become proud of spiritual progress! For example, earlier this year a friend of mine both prayed that God would bring us closer to Him no matter what. A few days later we both found out we prayed that prayer on the same day! We were both super encouraged, but after a few weeks we started to talk judgmentally about other Christians who “weren’t as devoted” as we were. Before we realized it, we had become proud of our devotion to God! Pride is incredibly sneaky and will infiltrate your heart in ways you can’t imagine.
Another thing I learned is that termites are often called “silent destroyers” because they can be active in your home for years before you see any noticeable signs. Sound familiar? Pride is different from many other sins because it doesn’t manifest itself physically. Sexual sin, gluttony, addictions, drunkenness, anger, and a host of other sins can manifest themselves physically. But we can look perfect on the outside but be dead internally because of pride (for example, see Matthew 23:25–28). It may take years for our pride to actually show, and by then it could have already done extensive damage to our heart, our soul, and all our relationships.
The final fact I’ll share is that termites are very difficult to get rid of permanently. As a matter of fact, in many cases you can never be sure that termites have been fully eradicated and it’s impossible to guarantee that they’ll never come back. This is why C. S. Lewis referred to pride as his “besetting sin,” because it can be nearly impossible to eradicate fully. When he said “besetting sin,” he was referring to Hebrews 12:1in the King James Version, which challenges Christians to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Modern translations will say refer to a besetting sin as “the sin that so easily entangles” or the “sin which clings so closely.” The point is simply that there are certain sins that we will struggle with until the day we die. For some, their besetting sin is lust, for others greed, and for C. S. Lewis and many others it is pride. Ironically enough, I think we are all plagued with at least one “besetting sin” to keep us from becoming prideful!
So the next time you wonder why God created termites, realize that God in His infinite wisdom created them for a purpose. I believe He created them to give us a picture of what pride does to our souls.