As I prepared for my sermon on "The Importance of Community" I came across some great teaching by Jonathan Edwards a Theologian from 1700’s. He wrote a book called, Thoughts on Revival. Not one of his most popular books, but in it he talks about what has killed spiritual revival and even church community. And to sum it up, what kills revival or church community is pride, more specifically, "spiritual pride." It really stepped on my toes and has challenged me to a higher standard of living; I hope it does the same for you! Enjoy!
So rather than quote exactly what he said, because his verbiage is from the 1700's, I contemporized some of his points for us to consider.
1)Spiritual Pride – makes you more aware of others faults then you are of your own.
Spiritual Humility- makes you far more aware of your own faults than others.
“Pure Christian humility causes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, to make the best of it and to diminish their failings; however, he turns his eye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself and to take much notice of everything that aggravates them.”
– Jonathan Edwards
2) Spiritual Pride – leads you to, when you speak of theirs faults, to have contempt and distain when you speak of others faults. An attitude of Superiority.
Spiritual Humility– leads you to speak of others faults only with grace, grief and mercy.
3) Spiritual Pride – leads you to quickly separate from people who have criticized you or those you've criticized.
Spiritual Humility– leads you to stick with people even through difficult relationships.
4) Spiritual Pride – leads you to be dogmatic and sure about every point of belief you hold.
Spiritual Humility– leads you to be flexible, teachable, and gracious of what others believe while understanding you could be wrong.
I do agree with Jonathan Edwards here that "Spiritual Pride" is a killer of revival! It's a killer of relationships, not only with others, but with God too. The Bible says that, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." I need grace, don't you!
It's important to remember that we, the church, are the only 'Jesus' some people may ever encounter, and if we are cocky, prideful, arrogant, and judgmental and act all superior, it's not going to help reach people with the love of Christ. I think it's worth noticing that sinners, like notorious sinner, i.e. prostitutes, tax collectors, thieves, and adulterers flocked to Jesus because of His love. If He was all judgmental and always pointing a condemning finger at them they NEVER would have wanted to be around Him. I personal hope and pray that notorious sinners - like prostitutes, strippers, drug addicts, IRS employees (j/k), etc. flock to Mercy Church! I really do!
Additional Scriptures for further study:
Hebrews 3:13; Romans 15:14; Romans 12:9; John 17:20-24; Romans 15:1-3; Matthew 27:46; James 3:18; James 4:1-12