Thirteen years ago, a foreign pastor visited our church one Sabbath afternoon. He had lived in an area controlled by rebels and regaled us with tales of abductions and forced labour. The stories of resilient faith in the face of stern hardship were nothing short of remarkable. One of his stories included his firm stand on not working on the Sabbath. Two denominations refused to work on the Sabbath and were summoned to explain themselves by the rebel leadership. He happily told of his explanation and with a dismissive wave of the hand, informed us of the other pastor’s inability to defend his position. The rebel leadership, we were told, exempted the members of his church from Saturday labour while the other denomination received no exemption.
At that very moment, my friend whispered in my ear, “you can easily see the spiritual pride on his face.” He added, “Just because that pastor couldn’t explain himself,doesn’t mean his whole church is inferior.” Spiritual pride is a dangerous self delusion. It drives us to turn God’s gracious blessings into entitlements. The spiritually proud are convinced God owes them a lifetime supply of blessings to pay them for two seconds of superficial obedience. Pride goes before destruction because pride is blind. Unable to see anything beyond themselves, they walk into traps but imagine themselves upright.
Unable to see God, they are unable to see themselves for those only those who gaze with awe upon God are able to see their true selves and are horrified by it all. Blind to God and to their true condition, the proud are doomed to never understand those around them. It is a lonely business! Afraid to lose God, they turn their noses up at other sinners, often moments before they fall into the same sins. It isn’t long before they decide to weed out sinners in an attempt to keep themselves pure.
In the end, it is only God’s graciousness that give us any hope. While we wallowed in sinful folly, God offered us a new way to be winners.
We owe our victories unequivocally to God. He is the instigator and finisher of our faith. The source and sustainer. To be sure, we will walk the streets of the New Jerusalem not because of who we are but because of who He is and what we have allowed Him to make out of us.
A little humility would be in order.