Have you ever been around a child who is absolutely sure they know everything? They correct everyone around them, even adults. They look at others with a huff of disgust as they realize the other person doesn’t know something they think is so simple. They are constantly spouting facts to make themselves look intelligent.
When you think of these kinds of people what words come to mind? Arrogant, conceited, proud, condescending, spoiled, self-centered?
Usually these people can’t even see what they are doing and how they are behaving because their need to be right supersedes their ability to consider others. Well meaning young people with no sense of humility.
I’m reminded of what Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once said:
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
As we examine our own lives we often find that we easily fall into this same attitude as adults. We are called to seek God, and the more we study and spend time with Him the more we realize just how little we know. The more we understand our sin, the more we realize just how benevolent and generous the grace and forgiveness of God really is.
Yet there is still an attitude among some church people today that is full of the kind of arrogance that scripture warns about time and time again. It is the arrogance of thinking we have it all figured out, and we know how to do this just right.
It is important for us to have standards and beliefs upon which we stand, but we also have to have an attitude of humility that is able to see that some don’t understand things the same way we do and that’s OK.
As you study scripture you see that some things are essentials, but many things that church people argue about are not. Salvation is essential, but Sunday morning dress code isn’t. Following Christ is essential, but having the right name on the door to the church is not. Worshipping God is essential, but the bible lists a variety of ways in which we do that with all of our being. Unity of the church is essential, but uniformity is not.
If we sit in judgment over another brother or sister then we have dethroned God and put ourselves in His place. He is the judge. We are called to love. We are called to serve. We are called to be selfless.
Some people think they have the right doctrine, but they can’t see the inconsistencies to which they themselves hold. They are busy pointing out the minute things others are doing wrong while ignoring the fact that Jesus got more angry about the arrogant religious people than the humble sinners. In their self-perceived spiritual maturity they don’t realize that they are being more immature than those they’re judging.
Some people think that just because a church has the “correct” name on the building then they are the true church. That too is arrogance. Again, we judge the hearts and motives of others whom we do not know just because they attend a church with a name different than ours.
Paul says this in Romans 12:3:
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
We must remember that Christ came and brought division, but only in families where some wanted to follow him and others didn’t. He came to bring unity to the church, and that is what he prayed for fervently in john 17. We cannot set ourselves as judge over another’s intentions, heart or even salvation and still maintain the unity of the body. Our job is to teach the truth. We can’t force people to listen, but we can love them no matter what.
The next time you see someone in church acting a way you think is in error check your attitude. Are you loving or condemning? Then pray for yourself and that other person that unity can prevail in spite of differences. Finally, go spend time serving and loving that person.
The church should be defined by its love and humility – not by its arrogance and judgmental attitudes. May you grow in your ability to love God, love Others, and be like Jesus.