Andrew Cuomo was governor of New York for 10 years, from 2011 until August this year. He left office in disgrace, resigning amid numerous allegations of sexual misconduct.
He was someone you could describe as ‘larger than life’ in his own respect. He got whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. He became very popular in the US at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although his state, New York, was one of the worst hit – described as the epicenter of the disease at some point – people still lauded his handling of the pandemic. They were blinded by his oratory prowess and charisma to the point of giving him an Emmy Award for “his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.” He himself wrote a book, American Crisis, proclaiming victory against the pandemic due to his leadership.
The praises and accolades certainly got to his head. He once told reporters, regarding the pandemic, that “the number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that.” He began to see himself as more effective than God, and his leadership as perhaps more charismatic. His downfall came soon after.
Michael Avenatti is the lawyer who rose to fame on the back of representing the pornographic film actress, Stormy Daniels against then president Donald Trump. He ate up his newfound fame and licked up all fingers as he made over 250 television news appearances in less than two years. At some point, he even decided to run for president and was, of course, lauded by the news media as the messiah who had come to rescue America from an evil president.
It all got to his head. He began spending money he did not have to make an impression – acquiring a private jet here and a race car there. Not only did he embezzle money from his porn star client, he also sought to extort money from the big multinational corporation, Nike; a failed greedy attempt that landed him in prison. It was hard to reconcile seeing the man who once referred to himself as “the greatest lawyer who ever lawyered” put in prison for a crime that any good thinking person, let alone a lawyer, would know to avoid. But then again, when your head is that swollen, it’s pretty hard to critically think.
And we all know Harvey Weinstein, the catalyst of the #metoo movement. The film producer who became such a huge force in Hollywood. One to whom many actors owed their fame and success. Those actors never shied away from thanking him publicly and acknowledging him in acceptance speeches of their many awards. One time, Meryll Streep even referred to him as “God” as she acknowledged him in an award acceptance speech. They kind of saw him that way and perhaps he himself did too.
But he had a crashing fall when a number of women, from whom he had demanded sexual favours in exchange for fame and fortune, made damning allegations against him, eventually leading to the loss of his career, marriage, social status and freedom. His profile now shamefully reads “American former film producer and convicted sex offender.” What a nasty fall!
These three men’s stories are marked by three common denominators. They all got to the point where they made sure to gratify all their bodily cravings, most especially the sexual variety – fulfilling the lust of the flesh. They acquired whatever pleased their eyes – luxurious homes, fast cars, beautiful women – fulfilling the lust of the eyes. Finally, and the most common of the denominators, they became larger than life. Their ego and ‘pride of life’ got big enough to pull them down.
These 3 temptations have plagued mankind since the beginning. You may call it the devil’s three-step approach to bringing man down. First, have him lust after the flesh; seeking to instantly gratify every bodily impulse he has. Then move him further to lusting after his eyes; always carried away by the next shiny object. And lastly, for the kill, make him think he’s equal with God. Let the pride of life so fill him that he doesn’t see his inevitable fall coming. He used this tactic on Adam and Eve, leading to the fall of mankind, and on Jesus too but was met with more than adequate resistance.
We must be on our guard also, ready to resist the wiles of the devil as he tempts us in these 3 areas. Pride is a big one for us all. This sin is always crouching at the door, and we must rule over it. Its desire is for our downfall, but we must look to God almighty, to whom there’s no equal, for help. He alone can lift us up and keep us there. But He resists the proud and gives such grace to the humble. It’s no wonder then that pride often precedes a nasty fall.