Proud People and Humble People2
What kind of heart does God revive? “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite’’” (Isaiah 57:15).
Twenty-seven years ago, Cindy and I were among several thousand campus ministry staff meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, and listening to a message delivered by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (today, a highly respected Christian author and host of Revive Our Hearts radio). We were deeply challenged as she spoke the truth in love.
During the course of her remarks, Nancy described the differences between “proud, unbroken people” and “humble, broken people.” As a man in continual need of God’s grace to slay my own pride and to reinstate his gracious rule in my heart, Nancy’s list of contrasts has been a very helpful diagnostic tool for me. I offer it below as possible help as you, with me, seek to be the kind of person whom the Holy Spirit is pleased to revive.
- “Proud, unbroken people focus on the failures of others. Broken people are overwhelmed with their own spiritual needs.
- “Proud, unbroken people are self-righteous; have a critical, fault-finding spirit; look at their own faults with a telescope, but others with a microscope. Broken people are compassionate; have a forgiving spirit; look for the best in others.
- “Proud, unbroken people look down on others. Broken people esteem others as better than themselves.
- “Proud, unbroken people are independent and have a self-sufficient spirit. Broken people have a dependent spirit and recognize others’ needs.
- “Proud, unbroken people maintain control and must have their way. Broken people surrender control.
- “Proud, unbroken people have to prove they are right. Broken people are willing to yield the right to be heard.
- “Proud, unbroken people claim their rights. Broken people yield their rights.
- “Proud, unbroken people have a demanding spirit. Broken people have a giving spirit.
- “Proud, unbroken people are self-protective of their time, rights, and reputation. Broken people are self-denying.
- “Proud, unbroken people desire to be served. Broken people are motivated to serve others.
- “Proud, unbroken people desire to be a success. Broken people desire to be faithful to make others a success.
- “Proud, unbroken people desire for self-advancement. Broken people desire to promote others.
- “Proud, unbroken people are driven to be recognized and appreciated. Broken people have a sense of unworthiness; are thrilled to be used at all; are eager for others to get the credit.
- “Proud, unbroken people are wounded when others are promoted, and they are overlooked. Broken people rejoice when others are lifted up.
- “Proud, unbroken people think, ‘This ministry is privileged to have me!’ Broken people think, ‘I don’t deserve to serve in this ministry!’
- “Proud, unbroken people think of what they can do for God. Broken people know that they have nothing to offer God.
- “Proud, unbroken people feel confident in how much they know. Broken people are humbled by how much they have to learn.
- “Proud, unbroken people are self-conscious. Broken people have no concern with self at all.
- “Proud, unbroken people keep people at arm’s length. Broken people risk getting close to others; are willing to take risks of loving people.
- “Proud, unbroken people are quick to blame others. Broken people accept personal responsibility, and can see where they were wrong.
- “Proud, unbroken people are unapproachable. Broken people are easy to be entreated.
- “Proud, unbroken people are defensive when criticized. Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open heart.
- “Proud, unbroken people are concerned with being respectable. Broken people are concerned with being real.
- “Proud, unbroken people are concerned with what others think. Broken people know all that matters is what God knows.
- “Proud, unbroken people work to maintain their image and protect their reputation. Broken people die to their own reputation.
- “Proud, unbroken people find it difficult to share their spiritual needs with others. Broken people are willing to be transparent with others.
- “Proud, unbroken people want to be sure no one finds out about their sin. Broken people are willing to be exposed; know that, once broken, there’s nothing to lose.
- “Proud, unbroken people have a hard time saying, ‘I was wrong. Would you forgive me?’ Broken people are quick to admit fault, and to seek forgiveness.
- “Proud, unbroken people deal in generalities when confessing their sin. Broken people deal in specifics.
- “Proud, unbroken people are concerned about the consequences of their sin. Broken people are grieved over the root of their sin.
- “Proud, unbroken people are remorseful for being caught. Broken people are repentant over sin and forsake it.
- “Proud, unbroken people wait for the other party to come and ask for forgiveness in a conflict. Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled; they get there first.
- “Proud, unbroken people compare themselves with others and feel deserving of honor. Broken people compare themselves with the holiness of God and feel desperate for mercy.
- “Proud, unbroken people are blind to their true heart condition. Broken people walk in the light.
- “Proud, unbroken people don’t think they have anything of which to repent. Broken people have a continual heart attitude toward repentance.
- “Proud, unbroken people don’t think they need revival, but think everybody else does. Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit.”
Lord Jesus, thank you that your Law works not only as a “mirror” to expose our hubris, but also as a “lamp” unto the path of humility. But most of all, thank you that in the Gospel you reveal yourself as the “bridge”—our crucified and risen Lord—who will deliver us from here to there.
In His Service,
What Pastor Greg is reading . . .
by J. Alasdair Groves & Winston T. Smith
One of my counselees and I have been reading and enjoying this book. The authors, both graduates from Westminster Theological Seminary and leaders within the biblical counseling movement, offer insights and applications that are wise, balanced, and helpful. Here’s a snapshot from the book’s cover:
“Our emotions are complex. Some of us seem able to ignore our feelings, while others feel controlled by them. But most of us would admit that we don’t always know what to do with how we feel. The Bible teaches that our emotions are an indispensable part of what makes us human—and plays a crucial role in our relationships with God and others. Exploring how God designed emotions for our good, this book shows us how to properly engage with our emotions—even the more difficult ones like fear, anger, shame, guilt, and sorrow—so we can better understand what they reveal about our hearts and handle them wisely in everyday moments.”