If I don’t Understand you, you must be wrong
Recently, I was working with a fellow Christian when I noticed something that he was doing. If he couldn’t wrap his head around something that I said, he immediately concluded that I was wrong. Later, as I was reminiscing his attitude that I was sure was arrogant, it dawned on me that I did the same thing all the time. If I didn’t understand something another person was telling me, I summarily concluded that he was wrong. He wasn’t making sense. It was never a matter of him making good sense and me failing to understand the sense he was making. How could the weakness be on my part? Unconsciously, I knew I was always the better person.I grew up as a can-do kid. I was poor but daring. I graduated valedictorian in my high school class. In the world of my small village, I was Albert Einstein. I came to the U.S, studied at an Ivy league university, then became a medical doctor. I was the first doctorate in my family and the first medical doctor from my entire village. Unconsciously, I grew too self-confident and self-centered to listen to others and try to understand them when they didn’t immediately say something that was clear and made sense to me. They would be immediately wrong. Period.
Without a doubt, in many cases, I knew something that some of those I related with didn’t know. But they also knew many more things that I didn’t know! Knowledge is a very dangerous thing. 1 Cor. 8:1 says that “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (NIV). The NASB version translates it as “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” What I have learned is that knowledge always puffs up. That is the very nature of knowledge. It will do that to any person. The only antidote to that is help from the Holy Spirit that leads a person to:
1) Fear God: This fear of God is the foundation of wisdom and it is wisdom itself. Without this strong fear of God, a person is foolish even if he has 1000 doctorate degrees.
2) Be Humble: Without humility, God would oppose a person. You cannot understand God apart from humility. God doesn’t share secrets with proud people. The only thing God does with the proud is humble them or destroy them. Humility comes from an understanding that we are no different from every other human being. Everything we have comes from God. We didn’t choose when to be born. We didn’t choose our parents, our races, our countries, our sexes, our IQs etc. We didn’t choose to have limbs or not. These things determine what we become and achieve. So being proud is useless. It is a sign of serious ignorance. Humility, also recognizes God as God. It recognizes the creature-creator relationship.
3) Love others unconditionally: Love fulfills the law. It removes the focus from us and puts it on others that we serve in love.
The insidious thing about pride and arrogance is that it sneaks up on an unsuspecting person like a bandit and takes hold of them without them realizing it. From a distance, it comes stealthily so that we do not hear its footsteps. Before we know it, it has us in its claws. Even though we are born again, we live live in a fallen world, among fallen people, among fallen angels called demons, and in a fallen body called the flesh which has an uncompromising penchant toward pride and arrogance. The inclination of the flesh towards pride is so strong that no human being can withstand its force unaided by the Holy Spirit.
“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” 1 Cor. 8:2 ESV
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5 ESV
If you have been as arrogant as I was, what can you do about it?
I suggest the following:
1) Pray for humility. Pray daily that God will keep you humble and away from pride.
2) Pray for the fear God. Pray daily that God will help you fear him. The fear of God is both the foundation of wisdom and wisdom itself.
3) Listen to understand. Many of us don’t know how to listen. When another person is talking, we are either waiting for him or her to stop so that we can talk or busy thinking about what we will say when they stop. Prov. 18:2 says we are fools when we do that. It says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
4) Listen to the end before speaking. The book of proverbs describes a fool as a person who speaks before listening. The Bible exhorts us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
5) Remember that we are all a mess. We are no better than other people, regardless of our titles and accomplishments.
6) Learn from King Solomon. Everything is vanity. Do you have money today? Do you have degrees and accomplishments? Death will come upon you just like it will on an uneducated and poor beggar. The end is the same for all of us. We will all die and face God’s judgement.