March 16 Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

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Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

Years ago, when my children were young, my son Mark told my youngest child, Melinda, to take something out of the room. She said, “You’re not my boss.” Mark replied, “Dad is the boss of Mom, Mom is the boss of Matt, Matt is the boss of Marcy, Marcy is the boss of me, and I am the boss of you.” So Melinda obeyed. After that, Melinda decided she was the boss of the dog, and the dog was boss of nobody. No one wants to be on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Everyone holds a certain position in life, and everyone is tempted to take advantage of it. Look at Herod in Acts 12:21–22: “Herod, having put on his royal apparel … began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ ” He loved the attention. What happened? “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (v. 23).

Intellectual pride can also be a stumbling block. It’s easy for Christians to think their theology is perfect and they have all the answers. But the more I study the Bible, the more I realize how little I know. I feel like a child who fills a pail in the ocean. My learning is only a small bucket of water compared to the vast sea of knowledge. I know very little, and I’m still learning.

The worst type of pride is external spirituality without internal holiness. Jesus reserved His greatest condemnations for those who had such pride: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27–28). You may look spiritual on the outside, going to church and acting “Christianly,” but your heart may be full of sin.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Examine your heart, and confess any pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

For Further Study: Read in Daniel 5 about what happened to a king who took pride in his position. Notice how God humbled him. Such sin wasn’t trivial to God; it shouldn’t be to us either.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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