I’m kind of a jerk. For as long as I’ve been able to think about myself, my heart, my life, I’ve known that I’m a sinful person. I’ve never doubted the reality of my depravity. And if there ever had been any doubt, being married and having children and immersing myself in a local church has provided all the proof I, and they, need.
But lately I’ve been considering one simple and disturbing aspect of this sin: I’m better than you. At least, this is what I believe in most of life’s situations. I’m just plain better than you. Somewhere deep inside I believe it’s true and too often I live and act like it’s true.
This is the old sin of pride, I suppose, the one we talk about so often but deal with so seldom, the one many people put at the root of all sin. And it’s amazing to me how much of my sin comes down to it. I think I’m better than you. Too often I’m just plain convinced of it.
When you choose to go left, my heart judges and condemns you because I am convinced it would have been better to go right. I don’t have nearly all the information you have, and probably only half the wisdom, yet in my heart I am convinced you would have made a far better decision if only you would have asked me to guide you.
When you lead your ministry, I have trouble following because I see all the things you are doing wrong, all the ignorant decisions you are making. I don’t know much about children’s ministry or music ministry or evangelism ministry or whatever else it is you lead, but I still have it all figured out. Come chat and I’ll be glad to set you straight.
When you are given a privilege or responsibility, something that puts you in a position of trust or authority, I am certain that the privilege should have gone to me. I suppose you will do okay, but I think we all know I would have done better. After all, I’m better than you.
This thread, this conviction of my own superiority, runs deep in the background of my life. If you’re honest with yourself, you may well find that it’s in your life as well.
It matters. It matters because while God calls us toward Christlikeness, we prefer to call others toward us-likeness. God calls us to hold all things up to the light of his Word, while we prefer to hold all things up to the light of our own judgments and our own determinations. Ultimately, we all long for conformity to us rather than to Christ.
This makes us useless counselors. We are useless counselors unless we can counsel from Scripture and toward holiness rather than from our own arrogance and toward conformity to us. This makes us miserable because we are always convinced life would be easier and better if only others were more like us. This lessens our usefulness to God and his kingdom because we spend so much of our time lamenting all the things others are doing wrong rather than joining them in doing things their way. This increases our sin and hinders our holiness.
I’m kind of a jerk, I know it, and still I have the audacity to want you to be like me. It’s baffling. It’s gross. It’s sin. It’s pride.