Tag Archives: Pride

“My poor prayers” by John Newton

“I sometimes think that the prayers of believers afford a stronger proof of a depraved nature, than even the profaneness of those who know not the Lord.

How strange is it, that when I have the fullest convictions that prayer is not only my duty—not only necessary as the appointed means of receiving those supplies, without which I can do nothing, but likewise the greatest honour and privilege to which I can be admitted in the present life,—I should still find myself so unwilling to engage in it.

However, I think it is not prayer itself that I am weary of, but such prayers as mine. How can it be accounted prayer, when the heart is so little affected,—when it is polluted with such a mixture of vile and vain imaginations,—when I hardly know what I say myself—but I feel my mind collected one minute, the next, my thoughts are gone to the ends of the earth.

If what I express with my lips were written down, and the thoughts which at the same time are passing through my heart were likewise written between the lines, the whole taken together would be such an absurd and incoherent jumble—such a medley of inconsistence, that it might pass for the ravings of a lunatic. When Satan points out to me the wildness of this jargon, and asks, ‘Is this a prayer fit to be presented to the holy heart-searching God?’

I am at a loss what to answer, till it is given me to recollect that I am not under the law, but under grace,—that my hope is to be placed, not in my own prayers, but in the righteousness and intercession of Jesus. The poorer and viler I am in myself, so much the more is the power and riches of His grace magnified in my behalf.

Therefore I must, and, the Lord being my helper, I will pray on, and admire his condescension and love, that He can and does take notice of such a creature,—for the event shows, that those prayers which are even displeasing to myself, partial as I am in my own case, are acceptable to Him, how else should they be answered?

And that I am still permitted to come to a throne of grace,—still supported in my walk and in my work, and that mine enemies have not yet prevailed against me, and triumphed over me, affords a full proof that the Lord has heard and has accepted my poor prayers.

Yea, it is possible, that those very prayers of ours of which we are most ashamed, are the most pleasing to the Lord, and for that reason, because we are ashamed of them. When we are favoured with what we call enlargement, we come away tolerably satisfied with ourselves,and think we have done well.”

–John Newton, Twenty-Five Letters Hitherto Unpublished of the Rev. John Newton, Ed. Robert Jones (Edinburgh: J. Johnstone, Hunter Square, 1847), 110-112. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 205.

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“Pride cannot live beneath the cross” by Charles Spurgeon

“He humbled Himself.”—Philippians 2:8

“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’? 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, then you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son.

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 Spurgeon, “June 3 –  Evening” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994),  329.

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“A humble soul” by Thomas Brooks

“A humble soul doth highly prize the least of Christ. The least smile, the least good word, the least good look, the least truth, the least mercy, is highly valued by a humble soul. The Canaanitish woman set a high price upon a crumb of mercy. (Matt. 15:27)

Ah, Lord, says the humble soul, if I may not have a loaf of mercy, give me a piece of mercy; if not a piece of mercy, give me a crumb of mercy. If I may not have sun-light, let me have moon-light; if not moon-light, let me have star-light; if not star-light, let me have candle-light; and for that I will bless Thee.

In the time of the law, the meanest things that were consecrated were very highly prized, as leather or wood that was in the tabernacle. A humble soul looks upon all the things of God as consecrated things.

Every truth of God is a consecrated truth; it is consecrated to holy use, and this causes the soul highly to prize it; and so every smile of God, and every discovery of God, and every drop of mercy from God, is very highly prized by a soul that walks humbly with God.

The name of Christ, the voice of Christ, the footsteps of Christ, the least touch of the garment of Christ, the least-regarded truth of Christ, the meanest and least-regarded among the flock of Christ, is highly prized by humble souls that are interested in Christ.

A humble soul cannot, a humble soul dares not, call anything little that has Christ in it; neither can a humble soul call or count anything great wherein he sees not Christ, wherein he enjoys not Christ.

A humble soul highly prizes the least nod, the least love-token, the least courtesy from Christ; but proud hearts count great mercies small mercies, and small mercies no mercies; yea, pride does so unman them, that they often call mercy misery.”

–Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,” The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 3, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 16.

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“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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