5 Symptoms Of A Proud Heart

  • You get defensive at the first sign of criticism or correction. Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” A humble man eagerly receives rebuke, correction, and criticism. I on the other hand, am quick to be defensive. What about you? When you receive correction from others at work, or at church, or in the family, how do you respond?
  • You are quick to speak and slow to listen. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” I’m often not interested in others or what others have to say, but only in voicing my own opinion. The humble person on the other hand, is slow to speak and eager to hear the input and wisdom of others. When you’re with other people, are you quick to voice your own opinion, or are you eager to hear the opinions of others?
  • You’re convinced that you’re always right. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” I’m very proud, which in turn causes me to be certain that I’m right in all situations, at all times. The humble person is keenly aware of their blind spots, and aware that they could be wrong. When a debate arises, are you convinced that your way is the right way?
  • You’re quick to criticize and slow to encourage. I’m aware of people’s deficiencies and unaware of God’s grace at work in people’s lives. The result? Much criticism and little encouragement. The humble person however can identify with Paul when he said, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim 1:15) Are you more aware of people’s faults or the grace of God at work in their life?
  • You become overwhelmed when life gets chaotic. When life gets chaotic and I’m loaded down with responsibilities, I can be easily overwhelmed. Why? Because I’m self-sufficient. In my pride, I rely on my own strength to carry out my plans. However, when things get chaotic, I get anxious. The humble person depends on God to carry out and execute plans, and thus experiences God’s peace.

I’m a proud man in desperate need of a Savior. How grateful I am that Christ died for my wicked arrogance.

God Humiliated Me By Choosing Me

My watch is precious to me. Okay, that sounded a bit too much like Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings”. But it’s true, I really do need my watch. I like to know the precise hour and minute so that I can be on time for meetings. I like to know what day of the month it is, and I like to use the timer function for taking power naps. Without my watch I feel somewhat lost, which is why I went into semi-panic when I recently lost my watch. For several days I racked my brains, trying to figure out where my precious timepiece had disappeared to. Finally, when I was about to abandon all hope of ever finding my watch again, I found it, and order was restored to my life.

The finding of my watch reminded me of a deep, profound, and humiliating truth: I never would have found God. Hear the words of Jesus from Luke 10:22:

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

Before Christ came looking for me, I was spiritually dead, and blind to the things of God. I wasn’t looking for God, wasn’t seeking Him out, wasn’t trying to understand Him or His ways. I hated God and wanted nothing to do with Him. I was blind to the beauty of Christ, enslaved by the power of sin, and had no desire for the Savior. I was miserable, but didn’t know it.

But oh how sweet the day when Christ came looking for me. He came to me while I was lying in the filth of my sin, washed me in His precious blood, and opened my eyes to the glory of God. He chose to reveal Himself to me. He chose to come looking for me. I didn’t choose God and never would have. If it were up to me, I would have passionately pursued sin until the day I died. But in His kindness, Christ chose to reveal the Father to me.

How humiliating to be chosen by God. The fact that Christ chose me should crush any pride dwelling within me. Any spiritual success I have is the result of Christ’s prior work within me. Any spiritual gifts I have are mine because Christ chose me. Any true joy I experience is because Jesus came looking for me. Any grace I experience is a free, undeserved gift. I have no room to boast, no room to brag. I’m humiliated, and it’s a wonderful thing.

How To Catch God’s Eye

Certain things catch my eye. The word “free” always catches my eye. Advertisements for Apple’s iPhone catch my eye. Headlines containing the words “Pittsburgh Steelers” cause me to look twice. A person cruising by on a bright and shiny scooter is sure to get a second look. My wife always catches my eye.

There are certain things that catch God’s eye as well. Hear these words from Isaiah 66:1-2

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

What is it that catches God’s eye? What is He drawn to and attracted by? It’s not the most talented person, or the person with the highest GPA, or the most gifted worship leader, or the most talented athlete. God is drawn to the person who is humble, contrite, and trembles at His word. Do you see the significance of this passage? If we want to experience the grace of God we must passionately pursue a humble and contrite spirit.

What does this look like practically? How do we obtain a humble and contrite spirit? By trembling at God’s word. The humble man knows that every time he reads his Bible, he is reading the sacred word of the living God. The humble man trembles at God’s word by reading it regularly and acknowledging his desperate need for it. The humble man trembles at God’s word by paying close attention to it and seeking to apply it to every area of his life. The humble man trembles at God’s word by seeking to obey it rather than argue with it. The humble man trembles at God’s word by loving God’s word.

Do you tremble at God’s word? Do you read it regularly, acknowledge your desperate need for it, and seek to obey it at all costs? Let us resolve today that we will seek to tremble at God’s word. In doing so we will catch God’s eye.

I Got Into A Fight

I’m not much of a fighter. Yes, I have a punching bag in my basement, and yes I sing the “Rocky” theme song when I punch it, but in general I’m not a fighter. In high school, I never got into fights. Of course that was because I was home schooled, but if I had been in public school I don’t think I would have gotten into fights. I like movies that have long, extended, manly fight scenes, such as “The Bourne Supremacy”, but I could never do anything like that. But recently I did get into a fight, a fight with God as a matter of fact. I took on God as my opponent.

Several days ago I was in a meeting with my dad and the other pastor on staff at our church. During the meeting, the three of us were discussing the best way to approach a certain situation. My dad wanted to do it one way and I wanted to do it another way. My dad, who is significantly wiser than I am, had the better way. But in my pride, I was totally convinced that my way was the right way, and that he was being a fool for not seeing it my way. In reality, I was the fool. But God was kind enough to convict me of my sin and lead me to repentance, and now I see that my dad’s way was indeed the better way.

James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” To say that I was proud during the pastoral meeting is a colossal understatement. I was massively arrogant. James tells me that God won’t tolerate my pride. In fact, when I’m proud I am taking on God as my opponent. When I am proud I am engaging in a head to head battle with God Himself, for God opposes the proud. And I don’t want God as my opponent.

The opposite of pride is humility, and it is to the humble that God gives grace. If I want to experience the grace of God I must be humble. Oh how I want to experience the grace of God! Do you want to experience the grace of God? Do want your daily experience to be one of experiencing God’s grace? Then pursue humility. Pursue it daily, regularly, consistently. Meditate on this verse from James. Read C.J. Mahaney’s book “Humility”. Confess areas of pride to your spouse, friends, and pastors. If you do, you will experience the grace of God. Otherwise, you will have God as your opponent.

How I Went Blind

I recently made a startling discovery: I’m blind. Oh I can still see things. I can see my scooter sitting in the church parking lot, the very essence of glory. I can see the haze in the air that causes me to burst into a sweaty mess the moment I step out of my air conditioned office. I can see that my little finger is bent kind of funny because I dislocated it playing softball last year. But the truth is, I’m blind.

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” This proverb describes a person that is blinded by their pride, blinded to the point of being convinced that they’re always right. This proverb perfectly describes me. Does it describe you?

Let me give you an example from my life. I recently had the privilege of preaching at my church. After my sermon, I asked my friend and fellow pastor, Joe, to give me input and suggestions for my message. In a kind and gentle way, Joe gave me several excellent suggestions as to how I might preach God’s word more effectively. No big deal, right? Wrong. The moment Joe began speaking, my heart began to rage within me. I was convinced that I didn’t need to hear what he was saying, didn’t need his advice, didn’t need any helpful suggestions. I can count the number of times I’ve preached on two hands, and Joe has preached many more times than I have. Yet I was thoroughly convinced that I had preached an outstanding message that had absolutely no room for improvement. I was blinded by my pride, and I was a fool.

Can you relate to me? Are you being a fool in any ways? How about at home? When your spouse or children or parents correct you, how do you respond? When they give you a suggestion, what is your initial reaction? Are you eager to listen, or quick to defend yourself? Do you invite correction, or raise barriers? How about at work? When a coworker suggests how you might improve a project, what goes on in your heart? Only a fool believes that he or she is always right. Don’t be a fool like me.