Posts Tagged arrogance

Let There be Peace

Galatians 5: 26

Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

This verse captured my attention last week. It’s one of those which I think we read and nod our heads in immediate agreement. We shouldn’t boast or brag, okay. Envy is just wrong, okay but what of challenging one another. What does that mean?

I was intrigued by this verse when I read it from the Amplified version, “Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.” So, I think we pretty well understand that we are not supposed to present ourselves in conceit and arrogance. Envy, yeah we’ve got a handle on that too. However, would you have said that God has spoken about competitiveness, provocation, and irritation? It is pretty easy to cast your thoughts abroad and remember instances when each of those has created a less than Godly environment. I am very competitive by nature but I really don’t like being around people whose competitiveness takes the fun out of life. You know what I am talking about. That does not foster a sense of love and peace.

And of course you may know someone who loves to provoke people. I knew one of those. He especially liked to say provocative and hateful things to women. I always thought he must be a bit of a coward to try to pick on and harass people who were not likely to make him pay for his comments in any meaningful way. Had he tried that with men, eventually he would have encountered one who was not feeling particularly righteous that day and would have decked him.

What about the irritants? Are there people who are just a thorn in the flesh of those around them? They are like a burr under the saddle, aren’t they? You just want to get rid of them.

All three of these are symptoms of brokenness. Emotionally healthy people do not have to resort to any of the characteristics described in today passage. We can certainly pray for these folks and you know they need prayer. Sometimes, you may need to gently confront them. Their damage should not become your burden but you may need to let them know where your boundaries lie and what is appropriate and what is not. God did not call you to fix them, he didn’t even call you to hang out with them, which is my third thought. You might consider significantly limiting your association with them. If you are following peace, as we know we should, then you are not going to find it in their presence. These behaviors are every bit as sinful as adultery. Importantly, God has not called you into that environment. Hear this – He has called us out of it.

God is the healer. If we are the ones who are conceited, arrogant, envious, self-absorbed, irritating, competitive, and provoke others into anger or other ungodly thoughts and words, then we must turn to God and receive healing. Only a broken, damaged person does these things, but we serve a mighty God who will deliver us.
You were destined to live in peace and harmony. You are meant to live in loving and caring environments and you deserve that. It is part of what Jesus died to give you so demand it for yourself. Except nothing less!!!

God is . . . not arrogant

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.

It is interesting that love is known not only for what it is but also for what it is not. It can be hard to describe what love is but we all understand the imagery suggested by what love is not. Still, you may be a little surprised that “not arrogant” is included in a description of love. So, what does arrogance look like and how does that contrast with love?
Some synonyms for arrogance are: conceit, haughtiness, egotism, and superiority. None of these sound like God. Our Father is not one to brag or self-promote. Love puts other people in first position and that is what God does. Also, arrogance comes often in comparison. Behaving in a superior or haughty manner is often more about putting someone else down in order to elevate oneself. God has no need to build Himself up. There is no one like God; no one even to compare with Him.

Truly there is no room for arrogance in love. Love shouldn’t be self-effacing but it should be modest, putting the love of the other person ahead of selfish, arrogant aims. Because God is love, His first thought is always about you. This is true. He isn’t worrying about Himself. He is fine and He is secure. Everything He has ever done, everything He does is for your welfare. He is not prideful, arrogant or boastful. He is kind, modest, meek and gentle. He is not out to prove how great He is or even to have you constantly bowing and kowtowing to Him. He made you a child. You are His beloved. There is no room for prideful or arrogant expression in true love. Love is not arrogant and thus neither is God.

Rightful Reliance

Habakkuk 2: 4

Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.

There are quite a few observations we can receive from the prophet Habakkuk. One of the first is that the proud person and the righteous person are not one in the same. That may seem obvious but perhaps we have not yet made that connection intellectually. We can be either arrogant or righteous but not both.

Secondly, Habakkuk tells us that an arrogant or proud person is not right on the inside. There is something amiss in their soul. This is really tragic. There is damage on the inside and this damage or unresolved injury prevents this person from being righteous. Now in the New Testament, Jesus is our righteousness so one might argue that righteousness still belongs to the arrogant or self-centered person because of Jesus. The problem with that argument is that this righteousness, which was purchased for us by Jesus, must still be received. The arrogant person can no more receive the grace of God’s righteousness through Jesus than he was able to do under the old covenant. God has always been the source of righteousness. We must die to self, take our eyes off of ourselves and live unto Christ if we want to walk in the blessing of Christ. All the blessings are provided for us but they are “in Christ” where we too are supposed to be. We cannot be into ourselves and into Christ. One might even ask how a person can be a Christian, a follower of The Way, with eyes, motivation and passion focused on oneself instead of on the Christ.

Lastly, the self-absorbed person cannot live by faith. Faith is in the rightness provided for us in Christ Jesus. That means that an arrogant person cannot also be a person of faith. This person, even if he confesses to be a Christian will be unable to live and walk under the umbrella of faith. Faith begins with Jesus. Faith comes through an end to self-reliance and a surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of Christ (Romans 10: 17). Faith, therefore, requires submission to the person of Jesus. Faith requires that we put our egos, ideas, thoughts, reasonings and truly all that we are behind the words of Christ. That necessarily means that we cannot be self-absorbed, self-impressed or self-sustaining and also reliant on the person and words of Jesus. We must take the idol of our intellect off of the throne of our hearts and ensconce Jesus there.

Not one of us wants to admit that we are arrogant because only fools are such. Whatsmore, I may find it quite easy to lie to myself in this regard, but here is the question I must consider, that is, not whether I believe or think myself to be arrogant but rather what others may say about me. If I can be completely honest with myself do I suspect that others might find me self-impressed. Oh dear God in heaven, save me from myself. Repentance brings the oil of gladness and repentance means nothing more than turning and going the other way, it means a change of heart, a change of mind. It does not mean travail or moaning and groaning. Just let Jesus and his word change your way of thinking. Be saved by the renewal of your thoughts, by the refreshing of your mind and be free from the burden of yourself.

Humbly Led

Psalm 25: 9

He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.
You can hang out in the twenty-fifth psalm for a long time. There is much nourishment for the soul here. So how did I choose verse nine? I am often attracted to the verses that promise God will lead me in His paths. I want to know His ways and walk according to His instruction. One of my very favorite verses, in fact, is in this psalm. Verse 4 is a prayer, “Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.” This is a psalm of David. By the time, he reaches verse 9 he has switched into teaching mode. He has gone from request to assurance. David knew that prayer to our benevolent Father results in answers. Therefore, he confidently assures us that our God and Father will lead us onto the divine pathway.

There is a stumbling block here, though, and that is what caused me to stop on this verse. There is a humility requirement. Perhaps, Father does not lead me as much as He might because I am so impressed with my own wisdom. Maybe, just maybe, my arrogance and independence prevents me from walking in His ways as well as I could. I wonder.

As you continue through this psalm, you discover that God’s instruction and guidance is for those who revere Him. Perhaps some of us get so caught up in trying to come up with answers that we never actually humble ourselves before the Lord and ask for His wisdom. And you know something else? Sometimes you don’t even have to ask. I find that if I will quiet myself down, He will offer His guidance free of charge. Maybe it doesn’t seem like arrogance for me to work so hard searching for answers but if we are truly humble and we revere the Lord won’t we allow Him to speak to our needs and questions? What is it, if not pride, when we are so caught up in our thinking that we do not appeal to His wisdom? Is this not putting our own intellect and problem solving skills on the throne?

We have a promise from the Lord that He will lead us and teach us His way. Let’s make ourselves available for Him to fulfil that promise in us.

The Wise Follower

Hebrews 13: 7

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

On two occasions the Apostle Paul encouraged people to imitate him. The first occurrence is in 1 Corinthians 4: 16 where he wrote, “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.” I find that remarkable. What kind of confidence does it take to tell people to examine your life and imitate it? Isn’t that exactly what today’s verse teaches though? The second time Paul instructs people to follow him by imitating his life is in 1 Corinthians 11: 1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” The key is in the last phrase. He was confident in his following of Christ. “Follow me as I follow Christ,” he might say.

No one walks this journey alone. There is no such thing as a self-made person. We all stand upon someone else’s shoulders. The wise among us are better at this than the rest of us. They don’t let their ego inhibit their growth. For some people, advancing on the journey is more important than trying to be their own leader. There is an expression in legal circles that an attorney who represents himself in litigation has a fool for a client. The same sort of wisdom can be applied to our spiritual journey. Only a fool would nominate himself as his own leader. How can I lead myself where I have not yet gone?

I am increasingly aware of and impressed by the number of times the Bible addresses humility. It is one of the overarching principles in the Bible. Humility goes with honor. Pride is associated with one’s destruction (Proverb 16: 18). Pride is often joined with foolishness while humility is the hallmark of the wise.   The reason this is important is that the number one reason we do not submit to another’s leadership is ego. If we can embrace humility, then we can benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

There are people in the body of Christ who have been appointed as leaders and they bear a tremendous burden because they have been given the responsibility for leading the flock. Having been appointed to positions of leadership has not made them perfect but still they lead the way for us. As today’s verse teaches, we are able to consider the result of their conduct, which is the same as beholding their fruit. If the fruit is good then humble yourself and receive the benefit of their instruction. 

I want you to be a follower even if you have been chosen as a leader because only good followers make good leaders. I do want you to be wise in who you follow though. Let us look again at today’s verse. Beyond being a person who bears good fruit they also must be one who speaks the Word of God to you. I don’t care how wise or how awesome they seem, if their advice is worldly then they are deceived and will soon lead you in to deception. And by now we all know who the author of deception is. Paul intones, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” In like manner we might say, “Follow this advice which I have received from the Lord Jesus.” We also should follow those who are following Christ. There is no one of this earth who can give us wisdom that eclipses that of God. So, why would we listen to those fools? And yet we do. In plain language let us be clear. Do not take financial advice from someone who does not tithe. Do not take relationship advice from someone who does not have a deep and abiding relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Do not take business advice from someone who has not made Christ the Lord over their business. We have learned what happens when we follow worldly fiscal and business advice. We end up in an upside down economy such as we experienced in 2008 and the years following.

Lastly, I wish to strongly encourage you to honor those who are leading you. Read today’s verse again. Who does it bring to your mind? Who has spoken the Word of God to you? Of course our pastors spring to our minds and I wish for you to show them honor and gratitude because theirs is a difficult job to say the least. Perhaps there are some other people who have given you the benefit of their walk with the Lord. Hearken to their voice and bless them however you may.

Give us Life

Proverb 22: 4

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.

A funny thing happened on the way to the . . . .

You’ve heard that old joke but it happened to me today on my way to another verse. This 22nd proverb just jumped out and caught me. I hope God caused it to leap off of the page for the Word of the Day, rather than it being a personal message for me. Eeither way, this scripture is seriously worth considering.

Most of us revere the Lord, which is what this “fear the Lord” means. So I don’t see that part as a problem for any of us. I suppose we could each take a moment and question how highly we esteem our Lord. Having done, though, I suspect that the larger problem that many of us need to deal with is humility. We have seen that humility is a pretty big issue with God. In the last couple of months we have seen half a dozen scriptures which either specifically talk about humility or which deal with the subject. It is certainly in our self-interest to be humble. First of all, people do not like arrogant people so we will have better friendships if we walk in humility but look at today’s passage. With humility also comes honor, riches and life. Well, we want life don’t we? So we need to pay attention to whether or not we really are humble.

The real question, I think, is, “Would other people describe me as humble.” You see, we are not always accurate assessors of ourselves. Think about your friends and family. Would they say you are a humble person? That is the test.

You know, Jesus, for all his power was a humble person. Do your remember this statement from Matthew 11: 29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” That makes one think. How can anyone of us be proud and arrogant when Jesus was humble? What do we think we have that makes us so special? Well, I can tell you that the only thing that I have that makes me special is Jesus.

So, here is what you do. Pray. Ask the Lord Jesus if you ever demonstrate arrogance or pride. Wait and let him answer. Many of us will be confronted with an uncomfortable truth but that is okay. The next step is to ask the Lord to take that out of you. Pray for his help because you cannot do this on your own. Ask him to continue his work in you making you into the image of himself. He will help you. He cannot do it without you, though. You are the master of your own house and he will not violate your sovereignty. However, he is poised, waiting and wanting to transform you into that beautiful creation that you were always destined to be. Do not hesitate in having this conversation with Jesus. Do it today because the longer you wait the longer you are denying yourself riches, honor and life.

Barnabas and Paul

Acts 15: 39

And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another.

This is such a tragic story. It is an early New Testament example of a church split. Barnabas and Paul were preaching partners. They travelled together spreading the good news of Christ. In fact, it was Barnabas who, we could say, sponsored Paul.  

Do you remember that Paul’s name had been Saul? He was well known in the region for persecuting Christians. He was even there when Stephen was stoned to death. Then he had that remarkable conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). After his conversion he began to preach about Jesus. He went to Jerusalem and tried to associate with the disciples but they didn’t trust him and so wouldn’t have anything to do with him. It was Barnabas who vouched for him. The scripture says “But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9: 27).  

Barnabas was already established in the church but Paul was a newcomer and an outsider. It appears to me that Barnabas took Paul under his wing and helped him. No doubt Barnabas was Paul’s best friend and probably his mentor. Something has gone very wrong by Acts 15 though. They had a bitter disagreement and it split up the team. Neither one, it would seem, was willing to concede the point so they, quite literally, went their separate ways.

What was at the base of this split, do you think? A conflict arose over whether or not to take John Mark with them on their trip. It seems to me, though, that the argument really isn’t over this issue. There is something deeper going on here. I found another scripture recently which may shed some light on this situation. It is Proverb 139: 18 and it reads, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”  

I wonder if pride had crept into their relationship. Perhaps Barnabas still perceived himself as the leader and expected to make decisions and to advise Paul. Paul clearly did not wish to defer to Barnabas’ wishes. Neither man would give in so they were forced to separate. It’s sad.

We are faced with the same situations today and it is my theory that pride is at the root. Face it. Few of us have the humility to receive advice. We all want to pretend that we have all of the answers. Pride is our calling card. This is why we quarrel and why we lack wisdom. We are unwilling to receive wisdom from those who would willingly share it with us. There are people with great wisdom and experience who keep it all to themselves because they have learned that most people would rather blindly stumble along in their own strength. And that is a shame. We should be learning from the learned. We should be sitting at the feet of the elderly, gleaning information and experience from them. But alas . . . .

Perhaps if we could learn something from this story of Barnabas and Paul we would have fewer church splits and fewer relationship splits. We’ve learned a few things about pride and humility. Wisdom is found in those who take advice and pride breeds quarrels (Proverb 139: 18). When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverb 11: 2). “Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall” (Proverb 16: 18). Up ‘til now, though, all of this knowledge is just in our heads. It will only transform us and our lives when it makes its way to our hearts. For that we need at least enough humility to pray to our God and ask Him for help and for wisdom. The problem is that the people who need this most are the one’s least likely to receive this into their hearts. Those of you who are nodding your heads as you read this have already come to appreciate the truth of these verses. Perhaps, then, if you would pray for the rest of us, maybe, just maybe, those of us who have a greater challenge in this area could find a measure of humility such that we could humble themselves before the Lord. We must go before the Lord and ask Him whether we are the humble or the proud and ask Him to soften our hearts. “While you are in there, Father, remove the prideful attitude and arrogance and remake us into the image of your dear son.”

Truly, if we will allow the father to remake our hearts so that arrogance and pride are not central cast members on the stage of our lives, we will live a much better existence and the peace of God will surround us at all times. Hallelujah.

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