Books, vanity and glory

old-books-sonsoles

Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that . . . those who write against it want to have the glory of having written well; and those who read it desire the glory of having read it.

–Blaise Pascal
(1623-1662)

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Published in: on 04/12/2014 at 10:53  Leave a Comment  
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The pride of faith

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There is a pride of faith, more unforgivable and dangerous than the pride of the intellect. It reveals a split personality in which faith is “observed” and appraised, thus negating that unity born of a dying-unto-self, which is the definition of faith. To “value” faith is to turn it into a metaphysical magic, the advantages of which ought to be reserved for a spiritual elite.

–Dag Hammarskjold
(1905-1961)

Published in: on 04/11/2014 at 0:24  Leave a Comment  
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Pride slays gratitude

Arrogance 4

A proud man is
seldom a grateful man,
for he never thinks he gets
as much as he deserves.

–Henry Ward Beecher
(1813 – 1887)

Published in: on 11/05/2013 at 1:26  Leave a Comment  
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Loved on the basis of grace

If God finds incentives for grace within himself,
then nothing in us can disqualify us from his grace –
nothing except a proud unwillingness
to be loved on terms of grace alone.

–Ray Ortland

Eternal childhood

Perhaps this will be one of the supreme tests: would we choose the childlikeness of Heaven or the promise of “maturity”, of “humanity come of age” in Hell? Will we suffer gladly the blow and shock to our pride that is Heaven’s gift of eternal childhood (thus eternal hope and progress) or will we insist on the “successes” of “self-actualization” that Heaven denies us and Hell offers us? If the latter, we will find despair instead of hope, ennui [boredom] instead of creative work, and the emptying out of all our joy.

Jesus’ teaching, “Unless you turn
and become like children, you will
never enter the kingdom of Heaven”,
is not something to be outgrown.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, when asked which are the four most important virtues, replied, “Humility, humility, humility, and humility.”

–Peter Kreeft

The main source of mischief

Spiritual pride is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christianity.  It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind and mislead the judgment.  It is the main source of all the mischief the devil introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God.

Spiritual pride tends to speak
of other persons’ sins
with bitterness or with laughter
and levity and an air of contempt.

But pure Christian humility rather tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity.  Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself.  He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart.  The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies.  But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.  He is apt to esteem others better than himself.

–Jonathan Edwards
(1703-1758)

A Judge of Truth

Whoever undertakes
to set himself up as a judge
of Truth and Knowledge
is shipwrecked by
the laughter of the gods.

–Albert Einstein

Published in: on 05/16/2011 at 12:32  Leave a Comment  
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Boasting in the Lord

“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad.” (Psa. 34:2)

I used to make my boast in knowing the Scriptures. When someone asked where a Bible verse was found, I could usually tell him where to find it. With someone like me around, who needs a concordance? I prided myself on my knowledge of the Holy Book; it made me believe I had become quite spiritual. Now I realize that what really matters is not knowing the written Word, but knowing the living Word. Christ said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (Jn. 5:39). Knowing the book of the Lord is not the same thing as know the Lord of the book. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in how well I was doing in the Christian life. I set high standards, defended them ardently, and sought to practice them. It gave me satisfaction to think that I was a notch above many other Christians who didn’t hold to those standards, or even know about them. I even felt proud about my humility! How hard it was to realize that my critical and unloving attitudes were worse sins than the ones I looked down on others for. I was condemning splinters while carrying a log. My spirituality turned out to be a sham. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in how well I was doing in the area of spiritual disciplines. I applied myself diligently to Bible study, prayer, worship and other devotional exercises, feeling sure that I was scoring high with these benchmarks of spirituality. It was hard for me to comprehend that you don’t get points for doing these things. They were simply a means of seeking God. I had gloried in the wrong things. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in not having committed some of the scandalous sins that others had fallen into. It gave me a sense of moral superiority to think I had managed to avoid sliding into those ditches. I now see that in my heart there is the potential of committing any one of those sins. If I have not done so, it is not because of me; it is because of Him. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in being part of a movement that sought to function on the basis of New Testament Church principles. I felt that we were doing things right. It took me a long time to realize that our calling was not simply to do things right, but to manifest Christ, and in that area, we were a long way from being where we should be. Following a pattern can make you proud; following a Person will keep you humble.  NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in my sound doctrinal positions. I was confident I had chapter and verse for my theological views. How well I could debate the finer points of Biblical minutiae! My theological orthodoxy gave me a sense of superiority over those who were not similarly enlightened. However, Scripture states: “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (I Cor. 8:2). I reluctantly had to learn that I fell into the category of those who know nothing. My “conceit of certainty” waned as I came to understand that at best “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12). I was left with little reason to boast in my knowledge. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in having successfully avoided the many errors that abound on the evangelical landscape. As I saw others swept away by the latest unbalanced teaching, it was easy for me to be critical of them. How deplorable that others were so lacking in spiritual discernment! How few there were who were standing strong for the truth of God! However, my condescending attitude took a beating when I ran into Philippians 2:3: “but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” What made me think I could have the truth of Christ, while woefully lacking the mind of Christ? My boasting was vain. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in my track record in serving God. My years of sharing my faith, ministering the Word, and serving others gave me a sense of spiritual achievement. I felt that I was making valuable contributions to the work of God. I had yet to learn what Paul had learned: “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15:10). Now I realize, that if a branch bears fruit, it’s all thanks to the vine. The Lord stated: “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  That was an important lesson to learn. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

I used to make my boast in my performance in many different areas. I am beginning to understand that none of these things are cause for self congratulation; they are only cause for gratitude. The apostle Paul posed these convicting questions: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7 NKJV) I am learning there is only one reason to boast. NOW I MAKE MY BOAST IN THE LORD.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord…'” (Jer. 9:23,24)

“But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Gal. 6:14).

(The author of the forgoing is a missionary who is strongly tempted to boast in having written such an outstanding article.)


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