Monday, September 21, 2009

Respectable Sins - Pride (Ch 11)

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges

Chapter 11 - Pride

Bridges warned at the end of the last chapter that "the sins we look at from here on will probably be more 'ugly' that the ones we've examined so far". And so, he turns to pride. He focuses on 4 expressions of pride that are special temptations to believers. I will look at each one briefly.

1. Pride of moral self-righteousness - which is very easy to fall into today considering the society in which we live.

However, we must seek an attitude of humility based on the truth "there but for the grace of God go I". If we are able to live morally upright lives, it is only because God's grace has acted upon us:
Rather than feeling morally superior to those who practice the flagrant sins we condemn, we ought to feel deeply grateful that God by His grace has kept us from, or perhaps rescued us from, such a lifestyle. (p91)
2. Pride of correct doctrine - the belief that my doctrinal beliefs are correct and anyone who does not hold them is theologically inferior. Boy do you ever encounter this one (and quite possibly display it too!) at bible college. Paul warns the Corinthians about this in regard to food "We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Cor 8:1b).

We must instead strive to hold our convictions with a spirit of true humility:
I'm not suggesting that we should not seek to know the truths of Scripture and develop doctrinal convictions about what the Scriptures teach, I am saying that we should hold our convictions in humility, realizing that many godly and theologically capable people hold other convictions. (p92-3)
3. Pride of achievement - the belief that all we have achieved we did on our own, with no acknowledgement that God gave us the mental capacity, chance of education, tenacity or desire to try. He gave a good example of this: people that extol their children's achievements in the annual Christmas letter eg. John got 1st class honours in his law degree, Susie trekked the Himalayas and Adam won the grand final for his team!! His point is that we must be careful not to sing the praises of our children without praising God for giving them the abilities to do so. I was slightly more circumspect on this - perhaps don't sing the praises of your children at all??! You could just say: John finished his degree and enjoyed what he learnt, Susie did even more hiking this year and Adam had another fun year of football. Just a thought.

Another aspect of this is the desire for recognition - like the people that give lots of money to a building fund, so their name can go on the plaque in a prominent position. Maybe as Christians we are not quite so crass - although we do quite like to be thanked publicly for a job well done. Our praise should come from God though, knowing that we have served him as we ought, rather than others singing our praises.

4. The pride of an independent spirit - here he includes both a resistance to authority (especially spiritual authority) and an unteachable attitude. These particular areas were suggested to Bridges by ministers who work amongst students and young adults:
When we are young, we tend to think we know everything. Or as one friend expressed it, "We don't know how much we don't know." (p97)
Here he refers to Hebrews 13:17:
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
We must all strive to be teachable and willing to learn. Not only that, but willing to hear the wisdom of those who have lived longer than us and experienced more.

As Bridges closes the chapter, he takes us to Isaiah 66:2b
This is the one I esteem:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
and trembles at my word.
I found this a helpful chapter, I can fall into pride in all of these areas. It's important to realise that's what is it - pride, and to repent of it and work, with God's help, to change.

Some things to think about:
  1. Which of these areas are you tempted to be proud: your moral standing, your doctrine, your achievements and/or your independence?
  2. What do you need to do to let go of this pride?

On Friday:
Chapter 12 - Selfishness

No comments: