I've had the experience of working many jobs in my past life. One, in particular, was up the industrial road I grew up in, across the tracks from the glass factory. We made all sorts of bottles (i.e., coke, wine, beer, etc.), boxed them, and shipped them to the customer. It was a pretty challenging environment to labor. Co-workers were typically brawlers and drunkards and had "colorful" language to express themselves—folk living hard in a small country town near the city limits. However, because of decades in the field, these kinds had much wisdom in their seniority. Our task in the line was shift work, graveyard hours around the clock. I remember being young, skinny, and naive on my first day. Man, they ate me up like candy and hazed me properly. But I stuck with it, learned, and proved myself worthy of being trusted. After a while, they respected me and even began to defend me against disgruntled co-workers. My bosses didn't want to see me leave that day several years later when I told them it was time for me to move on. By then, I had a solid position running large machinery, but I knew this wouldn't be my career. I had bigger dreams. It was a good-paying job at the time for a kid like me. The reason I survived that experience is that I was able to discern my surroundings, and being able to learn and work along with them gave me wisdom. My father had been a factory worker all his life.
What if only after a few days on the floor, I would have chosen to have the attitude that I knew everything already, the history, the workers, and the way everything functioned, or rousing up the delinquency of my co-workers instead of facilitating productivity? Imagine if I had acted with pride and arrogance. The outcome would have been quite different indeed. We witnessed it repeatedly happen by greenhorns, who did that very thing. They didn't last very long, caused much damage, and eventually got fired with a bad reputation in the community. Pride, even in the secular world, can cost you many friendships, opportunities, and careers. To think so highly of oneself, to be so presumptuous you fall blind to the reality of your surroundings. Just because some of these had visited the plant a few times, they thought they could run the factory within a short time. Not so, and they fell hard (Mt. 23:12).
Pride is undoubtedly seen in the unbelieving world, causing many problems. But can we be discerning enough to identify it in the church among our brethren behind the pulpit, among the elders?
When studying the behavioral delinquencies, character flaws, and sinful activities of Jesus' opponents, we genuinely recognize the pride which corrupted them into all sorts of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. And through the damage done by such evil workers, we can understand how God sees pride as an abomination. These religious leaders of the day, and their loyalists, proved themselves puffed up and boastful in their ignorance. And though some saw them as "bastions of light for believers," they were nothing more than liars and thieves.
Do not be deceived. There are many prideful brethren among us who are divisive and destructive. The proud are arrogant and find themselves in lofty-minded pursuits. They are discourteous and brazen, thinking so highly of themselves, missing the mark. These are not "doing good work for the Lord." It is nothing "righteous" or "courageous." Pride is not the reflection of conviction but rather selfish ambition.
Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He knew the people, their strengths and weaknesses, and the history of their culture. Besides, He was there when man was formed from dust. He was there when the first members of His church were planted. Only a fool would think himself to have more insight than the One who had been there from the beginning. Yet, thinking themselves wiser than Christ is precisely what they did, and many still do today.
Friends, if you seek to be effective for Christ to reach the faithless, renew the fallen, and reinforce the faithful? Please stay humble, and don't be like some Jews, Chief Priests, Lawyers, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, all over the New Testament constantly embarrassing themselves. Only believers with weak faith and worldly ways were easily manipulated to side with these liars. Take time to learn, and look at the big picture, history, and culture you seek to reach. Don't be a "know it all" whose modus operandi has always been "I'm smart and you're stupid, I'm right, and you're wrong, I know everything, and you know nothing, shut your mouth and sit down, it's my way or the highway." This sort of high-minded pride isn't loved. It isn't "gospel preaching." It serves only one's interest, and with time these sorts expose themselves for who they are. And when trying to twist the nature of Christ to justify their foolishness, it further proves their lawlessness (Mt. 7:23).
Proverbs 11:2 "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
Proverbs 16:5 "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished."
If being humble among the heathen works for the gospel's greater good, then being humble among the saints should do the same, correct? May we learn to be most effective for our Master. May we learn to love.