Jon Bloom: Few things sap more of our joy, are as emotionally demanding and mentally distracting, as relational conflict. And few things wreak as much havoc and destruction on lives as relational conflict. And so much of it is avoidable. Of course, not all conflict is avoidable. Some disagreements are based on issues so fundamental to truth, righteousness, and justice that conscientious conviction demands we stand our ground, even if it shatters a relationship. After all, even Jesus made it clear that for some of us, his coming would result in the painful severing of the important and meaningful and intimate relationships in our lives (Matthew 10:34–36). But most of our conflicts in life are not over such fundamental issues. They erupt over secondary, or peripheral, or trivial, or even utterly selfish things. And there’s only one path to peace in these cases. Warring Passions James nails us when he says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?
Tim Challies: Is there any trait more deceptive? Is there any vice easier to see in others, but harder to see in ourselves? We despise its presence in them, but defend its presence in us. It is the ugly trait of pride, one of a number of traits for which God has a special disgust. In this series, we are looking at things God says he hates, he despises, or he considers an abomination. We have already seen that God hates idolatry, sexual immorality, injustice, hypocrisy, and deceit. Today we will look at God’s hatred for pride. God Hates Pride “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.” So says wise old Solomon. And heading up the list of these seven deadly sins is “haughty eyes” (Proverbs 6:16-17). Haughty eyes are an arrogant man’s windows to the world. From the lofty perch of his own superiority, he uses them to look down upon
Ray Ortlund: If I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 2 Corinthians 12:6 God had given the apostle Paul an amazing spiritual experience — apparently, some kind of guided tour of heaven. If Paul had wanted to “wow” the rest of us, he easily could have. But for fourteen years he told no one about it, quietly keeping it to himself, wonderful though it was. He didn’t exploit his remarkable experience to enhance his ministry. Paul was deeply secure in Christ. He was content for people to perceive him and rate him on the basis of what they themselves could observe in him – not what he could claim, even rightly claim, but the ordinary human realities they could see and hear. It was the fraudulent “super-apostles”
Justin Taylor: Jonathan Edwards found human language almost inadequate to express the insidious nature of spiritual pride. It would take several metaphors even to begin describing this strategy of Satan. “This is,” he wrote, “the main door by which the Devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of religion. ‘Tis the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind, and mislead the judgement; this is the main handle by which the Devil takes hold of religious persons, and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God. This cause of error is the mainspring, or at least the main support of all the rest. Till this disease is cured, medicines are in vain applied to heal all other diseases.” Later, he writes: “There is no sin so much like the Devil as this, for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in great
Jared Wilson: This is a photo of Shiite Muslims in New Delhi, India flagellating themselves in honour of the grandson of Mohammad. As I study this image, I experience a mixture of feelings and convictions. Resonance — I understand deep in my bones the essence of this impulse. The inclination to self-abasement as justification is embedded in each one of us. These men have the courage to indulge it, to take it seriously enough to harm themselves as some form of propitiation. They know a gap between themselves and holiness must be bridged. Fear — Because of the resonance, I am fearful. For them and of myself. It is not really humility that drives self-justification but pride, and pride is not something to be indulged, even if on the surface it appears to be assaulted. Pity — I feel sorry for them for not knowing the gospel, or for having rejected it. I pity them for believing the bridge can be built by
By John Bloom: It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (2 Samuel 11:2) We are never more vulnerable to sin than when we are successful, admired by others, and prosperous, as King David tragically discovered. Imagine him reflecting on his adultery a year later. It was spring again. David once had loved warm, fragrant spring afternoons on the palace roof. But this year the scent of almond blossoms smelled like deep regret. David had no desire to look toward Uriah’s empty house. If only he had not looked that way a year ago. The memory throbbed with pain. His conscience had warned him to stop watching Bathsheba. But in his desire-induced inertia it had felt like he couldn’t pull himself away. What pathetic self-deception! Couldn’t pull himself away. He would never have tolerated
CH Spurgeon, The Sword and the Trowel, 1876: Consciousness of self-importance is a hateful delusion, but one into which we fall as naturally as weeds grow on a dunghill. We cannot be used of the Lord without it leading to dreaming of personal greatness, thinking ourselves almost indispensable to the church, pillars of the cause, and foundations of the temple of God. We are nothing and nobodies, but that we do not think so is very evident, for as soon as we are put on the shelf we begin anxiously to enquire, ‘How will the work go on without me?’ As well might the fly on the coach wheel enquire, ‘How will the mails be carried without me?’ –Charles Spurgeon, as quoted in Iain Murray, Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Banner of Truth, 1995), 20 The title to the editorial in which Spurgeon wrote this was: ‘Laid Aside: Why?’ (HT: Dane Ortlund)
It is an awful fact, whether we like to allow it or not, that pride is one of the commonest sins which beset human nature. We are all born Pharisees. We all naturally think far better of ourselves than we ought. We all naturally fancy that we deserve something better than we have. It is an old sin. It began in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they had not got everything that their merits deserved. It is a subtle sin. It rules and reigns in many a heart without being detected, and can even wear the garb of humility. It is a most soul-ruining sin. It prevents repentance, keeps men back from Christ, checks brotherly love, and nips in the bud spiritual anxiety. Let us watch against it, and be on our guard. Of all garments, none is so graceful, none wears so well, and none is so rare, as true humility. J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on
From The Gospel Coalition: Not all that looks like humility is actually humility. And sometimes what looks like pride to the world is actually loving concern. True Christian fellowship means that we must correct friends and family in their sin. So how do we offer such guidance to loved ones in a way that they can receive? And how do we make sure we serve them out of godly motives? Council members James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney hash out these difficult questions in the latest video in TGC’s roundtable series.
From Tyler Kenney at Desiring God: As Bible-believing Christians, we are known for our convictions against sexual immorality. But are we known equally as well for our contempt for religious arrogance? Scripture clearly states that sexual immorality is sin (Matthew 15:19; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, etc.). We must also remember, however, that this is only one bad fruit of our rebellion against God, one among a list of many others, including idolatry, theft, greed, drunkenness, reviling and swindling (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And all of these, God says, are just spin-offs of a more deep-seated trouble. Speaking to a disobedient Israel, the prophet Ezekiel declares, Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50) In the context surrounding this passage,
From: Juan Sanchez: If you have ever been a part of any church for any amount of time, then chances are you have witnessed conflict, perhaps even major conflict. This is a sad reality of life and ministry. You would think that a church full of professing Christians would be able to avoid divisions, but the truth of the matter is they don’t. Why is that? Why are so many churches marked by conflict and animosity? The Corinthian church situation allows us to look into a divided church full of corporate and personal conflicts. There are several facts that may help us to see why conflict arises in churches. First, divisions arose because of spiritual immaturity (3:1-4:21). Those who were immature placed their favorite “preacher” above the others. Instead, Paul reminded them that they should not boast in men, but in God (3:18-23). After all, ministers are God’s servants (4:1-21). Second, divisions arose because of spiritual apathy. They simply refused
From Ray Ortlund: How to wreck your church in three weeks: Week One: Walk into church today and think about how long you’ve been a member, how much you’ve sacrificed, how under-appreciated you are. Take note of every way you’re dissatisfied with your church now. Take note of every person who displeases you. Meet for coffee this week with another member and “share your heart.” Discuss how your church is changing, how you are being left out. Ask your friend who else in the church has “concerns.” Agree together that you must “pray about it.” Week Two: Send an email to a few other “concerned” members. Inform them that a groundswell of grievance is surfacing in your church. Problems have gone unaddressed for too long. Ask them to keep the matter to themselves “for the sake of the body.” As complaints come in, form them into a petition to demand an accounting from the leaders of the church. Circulate the petition
From Tullian Tchividjian: In Bob Kauflin’s book Worship Matters, he has a section on how to handle criticism. He’s writing specifically with church leaders in mind (pastors, preachers, music directors, etc.) but his insight proves to be super beneficial for all Christians. He shows that criticism provides Christians with an opportunity to glory in the cross of Christ. He makes the point that the main reason Christians resent criticism is because we fail to believe what God has said about us at the cross. He explains what he means by quoting Alfred Poirier: “In light of God’s judgment and justification of the sinner in the cross of Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism. I can face any criticism man may lay against me. In other words, no one can criticize me more than the cross already has.” Reflecting on these words, Bob writes: What a thought. The cross is a loud statement of our sin, unworthiness, and
What is the core sin of the human heart? Is it pride? Is it the sin of unbelief? Theologians have debated this topic for centuries. But According to Dr. David Powlison, the sins of pride and unbelief are really “two doors into the same room.” And he adds a third door—the fear of man. These three core sins are interrelated, and it’s not difficult to see how. Pride is the act of installing myself as the king of my own autonomous kingdom. Unbelief is the act of erasing God from my kingdom (functionally, if not deliberately). Fear of man is the act of installing other sinners as big players in my kingdom (When People are Big and God is Small). And it’s no surprise that all of the lies and lusts of our hearts are to be found rooted in these three core sins. These lies and lusts are expressions of the three core sins. (HT: Tony Reinke)
I love this: “There were two exegetes who prayed as they entered the library to work on understanding a biblical text. One was a biblical scholar and the other a common lay preacher. The biblical scholar, on route to deep seclusion in the collection of recent monographs, prayed like this: ‘Lord, I thank you that I am not like other exegetes– the youth ministers, authors of popular devotional literature, mass production book publishers or even this lay preacher. I study the Scriptures for hours every day– in their original… and several other languages, not to mention my work in ancient history and historiography, literary theory, social-scientific research, the most important commentaries, the most recent monographs and dissertations, and the most scholarly periodicals!’ But the lay preacher, trying to remember how to use the complicated cataloging system to find an understandable commentary on a passage of Scripture, prayed thus, ‘God, please help me, a mere preacher, find something to help me
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” –Jesus (Matt 5:3) Poverty of spirit is the personal acknowledgment of spiritual bankruptcy. It is the conscious confession of unworth before God. As such, it is the deepest form of repentance. . . . Poverty of spirit cannot be artificially induced by self-hatred. Still less does it have in common with showy humility. It cannot be aped successfully by the spiritually haughty who covet its qualities. Such efforts may achieve token success before peers; they never deceive God. Indeed, most of us are repulsed by sham humility, whether our own or that of others. I suspect that there is no pride more deadly than that which finds its roots in great learning, great external piety, or a showy defense of orthodoxy. My suspicion does not call into question the value of learning, piety, or orthodoxy; rather, it exposes professing believers to the full glare of this beatitude.