Pride and Guilt Print
Written by Toby Sumpter   
Saturday, 08 January 2011 10:54

There is of course a sin called laziness. And there is another sin which refuses to take responsibility, which constantly shifts the blame, and whenever harvest comes around, these folks have some great stories about the exotic creatures that kept them home playing Xbox and watching Netflix. These people will have poverty mugging them every few days, and they will still have bewildered looks on their faces. Hopefully one of the deacons will tell them the truth, and the Spirit will open their eyes. And I don’t just mean this financially; I mean this in every sense. I mean this spiritually, in the fullest sense. Jesus said the fields are white for harvest; they only need workers.

But there is another sin called pride. And this sin is a ringleader who brings several of his thugs along to most parties he attends. Books could be (and have been) written on pride, but let me note just one place where pride often does his dirty work. We often think of pride merely in the category of manners. It’s mostly just impolite to be proud and arrogant (we frequently assume). Of course pride gets angry, it might get kind of huffy, and surely it’s stubborn. But we usually only think of the consequences it has towards other people. But sin is suicide. Sin is always poisonous, and it always goes down into our own souls.

One of the ways pride poisons his victims is through false guilt. One of the unintended consequences of thinking too highly of yourself is the reality of not meeting your own expectations. What does a proud person do when he or she knows that they are not as smart, not as gifted, not as diligent, not as beautiful as they have positioned themselves to be? What do you do when you look in the mirror and you realize that your projection of yourself doesn’t match reality? Well, like the idiot sons of Adam that we are, we frequently take what we think is the path of least resistance and we feel bad for ourselves. We feel guilty. But instead of feeling guilty for setting up legalistic super-standards for ourselves, we feel guilty for not meeting our legalistic super-standards. And we do all of this with Bible verses and pious thoughts and prayers. O, I know I should be sharing the gospel with every person I come in contact with, but I’m just so cowardly and selfish. Or I know my house should look like a model home on HGTV, but I’m just not as organized as I should be. Or I know I really should be using my theological gifts to write books and speak at conferences, but I just don’t use my time as wisely as I should. I know my children should recite Bible verse on command and never have a resistant look in their eyes, but I just don’t spend enough time with them or discipline them consistently enough.

Of course there could be sins in any of those sentiments, but we have to recognize that there could be sins on either end of those sentences. It could be laziness and irresponsibility, but the common sin that could be present at the front end of every single sentence is the sin of pride. But since these goals are virtues, good things, we frequently don’t stop to question them. But people need to stop and ask whether Jesus has actually called them to be evangelists. Has Jesus commissioned you with the great and holy calling of having the model home for all the saints in the Kingdom? Has Christ solemnly assigned you the task of being the theological doctor for the Church of this age? Has God promised you perfectly studious, angelic children? Because if He has not, then the assumption that He has is a misconception, a fabrication, and at worst, a lie, flowing out of pride. And meanwhile, crowds of Christians go around feeling bad, feeling guilty for not measuring up to the super standards they have set for themselves.
But the good news of Jesus is freedom from guilt and sin. And this means in part that we are freed to be human. We are freed to be us. We are freed to be finite creatures. We are freed by the gospel to get tired. We are freed by the gospel to say ‘no’ to some things and ‘yes’ to others. We are freed by the gospel to be filled with the love of Christ to the very brim of our souls and spilling over, and then we can be fruitful in the tiny plot of planet earth that we’ve been given. We are freed to plant a garden, open a business, and have a family. We are freed to work hard and harvest the field that God has called us to. And since we’re sinners, we’ll screw that up sometimes too, and we’ll fall down on our faces. But the good news is that we can get up, ask for forgiveness and get back to work. But a big, sovereign God frees us to be little, humble people with bright eyes and laughing hearts.

In the sovereignty of this Almighty God, we are called to enormous things, and when the call comes, every obedient disciple will follow but grace will be given for that. Grace is always given for the task at hand. But if you can’t see the grace and you’ve cried out for it, then maybe the task should be reconsidered. Are you really called to that? Is that really your gift? Of course the sinful heart of man always loves to hide in the exception clauses and fine print, but really the only place that is safe is the love of Christ. When we hide in the love of Jesus we are safe in every direction. And then the love of Christ compels us.

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