There is a dangerous trap that Christians can susceptible to, that can destroy both our relationship to Christ and our witness to others. When we hold on to pride, we do not have a teachable and loving attitude. In one of his parables, Jesus described that it was not outside things that defiled a person, but what came out of one’s heart. He said:
“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
“All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
—Mark 7:15, 21-23 (emphasis added)
So Jesus identifies pride as evil or at least leading to evil, and in the same category that we see things we regard as much more serious.
The beloved apostle John admonishes us:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”
—I John 2:15-17 (emphasis added)
So, what does this mean? Can we not do well in this world? I don’t believe it means that so much as it means we should not put stock in those things. It is a matter of priorities. We should be constantly reminded of this. In the Sermon on the Mount, there are many applicable verses that go along with having a humble, teachable attitude.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matt. 5:3
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt 5:5
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matt. 6:33
“Judge not, that ye be not judged” Matt.7:1
So Christians are to be different from the world. We are not to pursue our goals apart from God. If we were to describe the world, we could describe it as superficial, materialistic and prideful (I John 2:16). The opposite of these would to be deep in a genuine way, content and humble.
Scriptures on superficiality:
“For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, but not in heart” II Corinthians 5:12
“For there is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11 (KJV) or — “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11 (NIV)
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” John 7:24
The promised Savior was not to be at all superficial, and he would emphasize both justice and mercy. He was teachable (Hebrews 5:8) and compassionate; and still in perfect submission to the Heavenly Father.
“The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
“And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
“But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;”
There are so many great scriptures on topics about meekness and humility and how it relates to judgment and mercy. We can judge right and wrong from our knowledge of scripture, but it is not our job to condemn someone else. The most effective witness we can have is to be humble and demonstrate a loving, humble attitude.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – II Timothy 42
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
“With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” – Proverbs 25:15 ESV
In closing, I would share a favorite scripture of many:
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” —Micah 6:8