In John 9 Jesus heals a man born blind. In verse 13 the man is brought before the Pharisees to give testimony as to what happened, and then a second time in verse 24 because the religious leaders did not believe the man had been healed by Jesus.
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” John 9:24-29
Skipping down a few verses:
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (vs. 39-41)
The Pharisees would not listen to the man who was healed. In the end, Jesus deals with their sin of arrogance directly.
I recently went to a church for worship. The day before attending, the Holy Spirit highlighted Luke 14.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:8-11
When I went to worship the next day, I sat in the back of the church. Ironically, about the second song, the Spirit beckoned me to the front to worship. I went to the front, got on my knees and worshipped the King of Glory with all my heart. I truly believe in all circumstance we should follow Luke 14. You do not know who will show up (it may be the King himself), and you certainly do not want to assume you will be in the highest seat! It is always better to let the Spirit move you to where he wants you and where he knows you will fit best for his purposes.
We have looked at 2 examples where arrogance is clearly and directly against what the Spirit is doing and how he works. Let’s now look at a third example in 2 Samuel 20. The chapter is rightly called Sheba’s rebellion.
Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said,
“We have no portion in David,
and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
every man to his tents, O Israel!”
So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 20:1-2
This happens right after the rebellion and death of Absalom. King David send troops after Sheba to deal with the revolt and Sheba flees to a city called Abel.
And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” (vs. 15-19)
Joab insists he is not trying to destroy, but has come to find Sheba who rebelled against King David. He asks for Sheba to be delivered to him and the wise woman responds that his head will be thrown over the wall! (vs. 21). Shockingly the woman counsels with the people and they cut off the head of Sheba and throw it over the wall to Joab.
What lessons can we learn from this story?
The wise woman reminds me of Proverbs 3 where wisdom is personified. She says after Joab arrives at the city, “I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” (vs. 19) I believe one of the main principles we learn here is that it is possible in our arrogance or ambition for the Kingdom, we can destroy instead of building up. The army was sent by David, but the job was not to destroy a peaceful city.
Many years ago, I experienced a false word from a leader in the church I was attending. We met and he gave me a word that he believe the Holy Spirit was telling him about my life. It did not resonate with me at all, but I waited a few days to make sure I wasn’t missing something. After praying about it I felt I should address this with the leader. To my surprise in trying to address it with grace, I was basically told I misunderstood and that he was right. Now the problem was he was about 90% incorrect in what he said. Not exactly a good standard. About a week later, I heard from the pastor and he said even if 90% of a word is inaccurate, we accept the 10%. I was dumbfounded. That is akin to cramming your authority down someone’s throat just because you are a leader. It was his way of elevating his leaders no matter the cost. I found this experience troubling and the person who gave this word would no longer have any close contact with me. I later realized that the Holy Spirit either allowed or caused this false word so he could teach both of us. It isn’t always easy, but the Spirit is the best teacher of our faith.
Arrogance can be very nasty and can cause destruction in the Body of Christ. We should always be asking if we are proceeding in humility and if we are destroying or building up the Body.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”