Tag Archives: Pride

“The only way of flying your flag” by C.S. Lewis

Question 16: Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?

Lewis: That’s a question which I cannot answer. My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls.

And then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag. And, of course, I found that this meant being a target. It is extraordinary how inconvenient to your family it becomes for you to get up early to go to Church.

It doesn’t matter so much if you get up early for anything else, but if you get up early to go to Church it’s very selfish of you and you upset the house.

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to Church.

I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off.

I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

But it is not for me to lay down laws, as I am only a layman, and I don’t know much.”

–C.S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 61-62.

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“Are you a thankful person?” by C.J. Mahaney

“What would happen if I crossed your path tomorrow morning? Would I encounter someone who was an alert and thankful observer of answered prayer, someone who in a pronounced way was grateful for God’s many mercies?

We want to continue throughout the day expressing gratefulness for the innumerable manifestations of God’s grace. It’s as if God is placing sticky-notes in our lives everywhere. How alert and perceptive of them are you?

Are you a thankful observer of the countless indications of His provision, His presence, His kindness, and His grace? An ungrateful person is a proud person. If I’m ungrateful, I’m arrogant.

And if I’m arrogant, I need to remember God doesn’t sympathize with me in that arrogance; He is opposed to the proud. Let each of us recognize every day that whatever grace we receive from God is so much more than we’re worthy of, and indescribably better than the hell we all deserve.”

–C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (New York: Multnomah, 2005), 71.

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“Pride cannot live beneath the cross” by Charles H. Spurgeon

“Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of Him. See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself? See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud! Is not this sentence the compendium of His biography, ‘He humbled Himself’? (Philippians 2:8)

Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honour and then another, till, naked, He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought!

How then can we be proud? Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame.

Hear the thrilling shriek, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten.

Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him.

Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Evening – June 3,” in Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Vol. 1 (Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2008), 362-363.

[HT: Blake Hickman]

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“Their desire is not to teach but to be teachers” by Carl Trueman

“I am increasingly convinced that pride is the root of problems among students. I was convicted recently by a minister friend quoting to me 1 Timothy 1:5-7 (ESV): ‘The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.’

My friend made two observations about this passage. First, the drift into dubious theological discussion is here described as moral in origin: these characters have swerved from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith; that is why their theology is so dreadful. Second, their desire is not to teach but to be teachers. There is an important difference here: their focus is on their own status, not on the words they proclaim. At most, the latter are merely instrumental to getting them status and boosting their careers.

Thus, what concerns me most is that students may simply desire to be teachers. If that is their motivation, then they have already abandoned a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, and their theology, no matter how orthodox, is just a means to an end and no sound thing. It is why I am very sceptical of the internal call to the ministry as a decisive or motivating factor in seeking ordination.

Nine times out of ten, I believe that the church should first discern who should be considering the Christian ministry, not simply a rubber-stamp act as a putative internal call which an individual may think he has. Further, such students whose first desire is to be teachers are more likely to try to catch whatever is the latest trendy wave.

Orthodoxy is always doomed to seem uncreative and pedestrian in the wider arena; if the aim is to be a teacher, to be the big shot, then it is more likely that orthodoxy will be less appealing in the long run – though there are those for whom orthodoxy too is simply a means to being a celebrity.”

–Carl Trueman, “Sin in High Places” in Risking the Truth, Ed. Martin Downes (Geanies House, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2009), 31-32.

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“Our lifelong enemy” by Jerram Barrs

“Pride takes our whole lifetime to die.”

–Jerram Barrs, The Heart of Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001), 164.

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“If you think you have made it” by Martin Luther

“There now, with that you have David’s rules. If you study hard in accord with his example, then you will also sing and boast with him in the Psalm, ‘The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces’ (Ps. 119:72). Also, ‘Thy commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep thy precepts’ (Ps. 119:98-100). And it will be your experience that the books of the fathers will taste stale and putrid to you in comparison.

You will not only despise the books written by adversaries, but the longer you write and teach the less you will be pleased with yourself. When you have reached this point, then do not be afraid to hope that you have begun to become a real theologian, who can teach not only the young and imperfect Christians, but also the maturing and perfect ones. For indeed, Christ’s church has all kinds of Christians in it who are young, old, weak, healthy, strong, energetic, lazy, simple, wise, etc.

If, however, you feel and are inclined to think you have made it, flattering yourself with your own little books, teaching, or writing, because you have done it beautifully and preached excellently; if you are highly pleased when someone praises you in the presence of others; if you perhaps look for praise, and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it– if you are of that stripe, dear friend, then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears.

Then do not spare any expense! Decorate them with golden bells, so that people will be able to hear you wherever you go, point their fingers at you, and say, ‘See, see! There goes that clever beast, who can write such exquisite books and preach so remarkably well.’ That very moment you will be blessed and blessed beyond measure in the kingdom of heaven. Yes, in that heaven where hellfire is ready for the devil and his angels. To sum up: Let us be proud and seek honor in the places where we can. But in this Book the honor is God’s alone, as it is said, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (1 Pet. 5:5); to whom be glory, world without end, Amen.”

–Martin Luther, “Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, Ed. Timothy Lull. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989), pp. 67-68.

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“The Cross of Christ” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Cross of Christ destroys all pride.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 114.

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