Monday, November 26, 2007

Playing Hide and Seek with Humility

“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
- Isaiah 66:2b

“The whole human race is infected with the disease of pride; for by the gospel all the glory of the flesh is reduced to nothing…The doctrine of humility…is…confirmed by the precious blood of Christ.”
- John Calvin, Genesis II:264, cited in Calvin’s Wisdom, p. 154

“That demon of pride was born with us, and it will not die one hour before us. It is so woven into the very warp and woof of our nature, that till we are wrapped in our winding-sheets we shall never hear the last of it.”
- Charles Spurgeon, Fear Not, The Spurgeon Archive,*

“I am more afraid of the pope of ‘self’ than of the pope of Rome and all his cardinals.”
- Martin Luther

“I know I am proud; and yet I do not know the half of that pride.”
- Robert Murray M’Cheyne (quoted in Humility, the Forgotten Virtue, by Wayne Mack)

How does this happen, and on the Lord’s Day no less? That day when I foolishly think I’m on my best behavior, I found myself acting once again in arrogance. Anxiety led to arrogance and there I was defending my defenseless position. I would have argued all afternoon that I was right. Smug and self-satisfied, it was only later that day that I saw my wrong. My sin then led to a phone call and a confession of sin and a request for forgiveness. “I was wrong…I sinned against you…I was arrogant…You were right…Please forgive me.” She was gracious and freely offered forgiveness.

Why is it that the first place I seem to go is self-defense and a self-assured attitude of my own right understanding? You’d think that by now I would have learned this lesson. And this is by no means the first time. This is ground I’ve walked again and again. Why is it so hard to admit that I am are wrong? The roots of pride run deep in my heart. Its invasive tendrils wrap themselves around everything. I cannot think, say, or do without pride’s ensnaring effect.

The sobering reality is that without the gospel I have no hope. I will ever and always be an arrogant man unless Christ shows me great mercy and opens my eyes to my arrogance. Left to myself I’m frightened at the prospect. When faced with the battle of indwelling sin and the ensuing daily conflict Paul writes to the Romans, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) He understood that indwelling sin has a power far beyond anything we might try to manufacture. Paul then goes on to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ for help in this ongoing battle.

Dear friends, the Christian life is not for sissies. There is a battle raging and we’re right in the middle of it. Until I take my last breath pride and arrogance lie in wait, ever watching for an opportunity to seize my thoughts, words and deeds. I need the gospel. I need the assurance that this battle is not my own. I need the abundant grace of God in the surety of the ascended Christ that arrogance has been dealt a death blow, and what I’m seeing now is simply the last gasps of a dying enemy.

In all of this I’m grateful for a church where confession of sin is often made and forgiveness is freely given. We are a church of needy sinners living life under the care and protection of a glorious and gracious Savior. Thank you all for letting this be a place where the battle for humility is being fought. Thank you being a humble example to me.

With joy, Dan

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