April 2012


The brand of pride that most often plagues my heart is one that spills over in the words, “Yeah, I know that.” Like one of the cool kids that wants everyone to know they saw that movie and heard that band long before they went mainstream, there is a sinful tendency in me to want others to be aware that I was already aware of whatever they are trying to make me aware of.

And it’s not just information, as if all I want is for everyone to think I’m smart (though I do). It can also surface when my wife kindly asks me to do something, and the first thing I say is, “Yeah, I was just getting ready to do that.” I want her to know how proactive and helpful I am. I want to get credit for choosing to complete the stated task even before I was asked.

And then this past Sunday evening at church, as I was thinking on these things, one of our elders helped to reveal another area where this pride crops up. Very often while listening to a sermon or participating in a group discussion around God’s word, my heart and mind are less concerned with learning and growing and more consumed with all of things people are saying that I believe I have already figured out. Rather than being teachable, I want people to think that I am learned.

So, what to do? As I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon, I have a few ideas. Maybe you’re in the same boat as me and these will prove helpful. One is to simply bite my tongue. Why do I need to let everyone know what I know? There are times to justify ourselves or reveal knowledge we have, but there are plenty of times when it is completely unnecessary. So I want to discern when it is necessary or helpful and when it is pride. Help me, Holy Spirit!

Another weapon against this species of pride that I’ve been thinking through is to seek out opportunities to say, “I didn’t know that.” How pride-killing it is to point out someone else’s keen insight, to rejoice at some new knowledge you’ve received from a friend, or to simply say, “You just used a vocabulary word that I have never heard of – what does insipid mean?” So when someone in conversation says, “You probably already know this,” and follows those words with something I was previously oblivious to, I want to be quick to say, “I didn’t know that.”

And when you and I think we know it all, it is helpful to consider the All-knowing God. To remember that he knows more about the hairs on my own head than I do. To meditate on the staggering truth that he can say to every piece of information revealed in the world, not to mention those things hidden beyond the scope of human knowledge, “Yeah, I know that.” Nothing kills pride like staring long at the majesty of God.

Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. (Ps. 147:5)

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139:4)

So may we pray with Hannah the words of 1 Samuel 2:2-3:

There is no one holy like the LORD,
Indeed, there is no one besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the LORD is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed.

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We know when it’s time to get dinner on the table – when our kids begin to scrounge. That’s what we call it: “The kids are scrounging.” Of course, it seems like they’re always rummaging around, scavenging for food, hiding under the table with a box of cereal, shoving it into their mouths by handfuls. They eat like Hobbits – breakfast, second-breakfast, elevensies, and on throughout the day. I promise you, we feed them. It feels like we are constantly feeding them.

And so I have in different words spoken the statement that every parent must: “You’re going to spoil your dinner.” Come by our house at 5pm and you will hear, “No you cannot have that chip or this piece of candy or another snack – we are eating in 20 minutes.” We’ve learned – if they scrounge too much, they won’t eat the food we want them to eat.

All of this counsel given to my children came home to me today as I read from A Hunger for God by John Piper. He writes:

If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you” (23).

There are days that I scrounge all day. Sometimes I fulfill all my longings and find my joy in food and sweets and good coffee. Or I look for rest and pleasure in my computer or a bit of television. I often feel the deep need to fill my ears with music. I rummage around, nibbling on countless things – mostly good, God-given things. But things that slowly crowd out and squelch my hunger for God. And so I don’t long for him like I should. I’m not hungry for what my soul truly desires and needs to eat. I have often spoiled my appetite for the glory of God by an incessant snacking on the world. And as full as I may be, I am not satisfied.

God has not only given us gifts to enjoy; he has given us gifts so that we can joyful abstain from them and allow our hearts to be satisfied with Him alone. So get out from under the table with the box of Cinnamon Life and seek satisfaction in the feast God has laid out for us in Jesus, the Bread of Life.