I love our church. I love what God is doing in and through our church. I love the people. I love the teaching. In the midst of this love-fest for FBC, sometimes I can find myself feeling something that is nothing like love: pride.
In his sermon on Sunday on Mark 3:1-6, Chris made this statement: “Having jealousy, pride and religious zeal is a deadly combination.” If I am honest with myself, I have felt all three of those at various times, so it is only logical that I could feel all three at once, putting me in danger of acting just like the religious leaders from Jesus’ time.
Pride is where it all starts with me. God has given me a mind that loves information, so I tend to research subjects deeply. Instead of always using this knowledge to glorify God and love others—which is what God intends—I turn around and feel superior to the “less informed” and get angry when someone challenges what my knowledge tells me is “right.” When I read about the Pharisees, I see we have that in common.
What I am experiencing is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:1: “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” Knowledge by itself isn’t the problem, but it becomes a problem when I forget my identity as someone completely sinful and wretched, yet completely loved by God.
In this account in Mark, if ANYONE had a right to be angry, it was Jesus. After all, the religious leaders were trying to burn him for doing GOOD to people. But Jesus didn’t feel what I would. He did feel anger, but it was only for a moment. After his momentary anger, he felt grief at their hardness of heart. Above all else, Jesus loved humanity, even the humanity that was out to get him and was full of hatred toward him.
Since I—unlike Christ—approach opposition with pride in my knowledge, my anger continues and does not give way to grief at hardness of heart or love for my accuser. Memorizing Ephesians 4:32 has helped me gain perspective when confronted with opposition. The verse in front of it encourages believes to “put away” bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander and instead to “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”