The Arrogant Christian
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18
I imagine that whatever field a person is in, the more knowledge he or she has, the greater the temptation is to embrace arrogance. In medicine, if I would specialize in some area that others physicians knew little about and they had to come to me, asking for help, it would probably feed my ego tremendously. Increased knowledge often leads to increased pride. The more I think I know, the more I think of myself.
As Christians, we can be particularly prone to this because it’s not worldly knowledge we place our faith in. It’s God’s knowledge given to us, and so, we believe we possess absolute truth. Because of the source of our knowledge – God’s word – we believe we absolutely cannot be wrong. In our unconditional rightness, we become prideful in being right. In that arrogance, we fail miserably at being like Christ, who possessed all knowledge, yet still remained humble.
In today’s passage, Paul said that humility was, in fact, the indicator of true wisdom. If anyone thinks he is wise and if anyone thinks highly of his own knowledge, he deceives himself. If we want to be wise, we must first accept our ignorance and foolishness before God. It’s not that we cannot know truth and possess wisdom. We absolutely can become wiser, gaining knowledge and understanding. When, however, our knowledge leads to arrogance, it doesn’t matter how right we are. When our knowledge leads us to think highly of ourselves, that’s not wisdom, but rather, grotesque pride.
This is the problem with knowledge. I can know today’s passage, but the very fact that I’ve studied it, prayed about it, and written about it, naturally leads me to think more highly of my own understanding. In reading Paul’s words, I can think of a more than a few people who also desperately need to read it. You need to read this passage and my blog. In pointing the passage at others instead of myself however, I indulge in my hideous pride, becoming the very thing the passage condemns.
Knowledge alone leads to pride. Applying our knowledge to living appropriately is wisdom, and true wisdom is always humble. If we desire to be wise then, we must begin by embracing humility.