Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Love - Part 5: Not Arrogant

Love . . . is not arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

And the opposite of arrogance is humility. Arrogance is: “a feeling of superiority or an offensive exhibition of it; that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree”*. While the definition of humility is: 1) “freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind”*. And in regards to our relationship with the Lord it: “consists in lowliness of mind; is a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God . . . penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will”*.

The greatest and purest example of humility is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8). This is true humility at its fullest. God Himself, the creator of the universe, became a man. Why? To give salvation freely to whoever would believe upon Him. He, being perfect, took all sin upon Himself and died in our place. In the preceding verses, believers are exhorted to “Have this attitude in [ourselves] which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). How do we do this? “by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4).

In our lives, either humility or pride will be the essence of our character. It is up to us to decide which it will be and the rest of our character will be the result of which one of these is reigning in our lives. Because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, pride is inherent in every person. It is our sin nature; pride in and of ourselves and the desire to please and satisfy our own wants and pleasures, this is worldliness. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16). “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant . . . .” (2 Timothy 3:2). This pride is what caused Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. The serpent said to her, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5). First casting doubt upon the one and true God, the serpent also spoke to Eve’s pride; offering a tantalizing appeal to satisfy and glorify herself. And Eve was deceived (1 Timothy 2:14) and succumbed to the temptation. For “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3:6). We too are daughters of Eve. Born with this same sin nature; this same pride and desire to please and satisfy ourselves.

If this is our nature, we must then exercise to overcome it. In Zephaniah 2:3, it is exhorted to “seek righteousness, seek humility”, and he who “seeks, finds” (Luke 11:10). This seeking is actively searching and studying; it is not passive. Colossians 3:12 states that we are to “put on a heart of . . . humility”. Put on. Active work and labor. We cannot put on our socks without effort on our part. We can sit there and hope and wish that our socks will get on our feet, but without performing action, I can assure you that it will not happen. Likewise, we cannot be humble, unless we put forth the effort to be humble. We cannot expel pride, unless we work on conquering it in day to day instances.

The prophet Daniel is an example of this. In a vision, an angel spoke to Daniel saying, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God . . . .” (Daniel 10:12). Like Daniel, we too are to “humble [our]selves under the mighty hand of God, that He might exalt [us] at the proper time,” (1 Peter 5:6). In the previous verse, verse 5, Peter commands “all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God Himself has declared: “but to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2b). Again in James it is stated: “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6). How, though, do we cultivate this humility? How do we practice it instead of pride? James gives the answer to these questions: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8a). By submitting our will to God’s will and by drawing near to Him, thence comes humility. Drawing near to God is aligning our hearts closer with His. This is brought about by the reading and study of His word, meditation upon it, application of it to our lives, prayer to our Father and communion with Him.

As shared in a previous post in this series:
A truly humble heart . . . knows that the One working through her is the Lord. And that in and of herself, her “righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6). The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans echoes this thought in quoting Psalm 14:1-3: “ ‘. . . There is none who does good . . .’ ” (Romans 3:12). What does Christ say? “ ‘No one is good except God alone.’ ” (Mark 10:18). So as believers, any good that works through us, is because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, working in us through the Holy Spirit.
When we recognize this, there is no room for pride and arrogance in our lives. Instead our hearts bow before the Lord in submission, honor and reverence. All that we are is because of Him. He is the one who has redeemed us, has filled us with the Holy Spirit, and who guides us in His truth. Teaching us, disciplining us and loving us.

but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 15:57

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 3:20-21 and 4:1-2

*Definitions taken from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language and The Random House College Dictionary

-Posted by Sarah


  1. Thank you for posting that. :) It reminded me that as a Christian, I should be humble, a servant to others, even as Christ was before me.

  2. What a great post and such a needed reminder! Thank you ever so much!

  3. We are so glad that it was a blessing to you, Sara!