Just the other day, I was chatting on the phone with a friend of mine and, of course, we ended up taking about dispensationalism. (This is what happens when your friends are as big of a Bible geek as you.) As we were talking, I’m just listening to my friend go on and on. I thought to myself, “Man, who needs seminary? Just talk to this guy!” I was completely blown away by his understanding of theology and Scripture.
5 years ago, this would have sent me into a jealous shame-spiral. I would’ve cried myself to sleep for a week-straight because someone knows more than me. 5 years ago, I had to be the best at everything (because that’s realistic). Perhaps I’ve matured a bit because I felt truly blessed to have a friend who knows so much! Scripture is for everyone. Theology is for everyone. But, it takes time to study and understand. While the basic Gospel message is simple enough for a child to understand; the totality of Scripture can baffle the most brilliant of minds. Scripture is kind of awesome in that way.
I’ve reached a point where I can appreciate those who are smarter than me or have been studying Scripture longer than me. Instead of allowing the green-eyed monster to take over; I’m encouraged. I am thankful to have brothers and sisters that can be a mentor to me. This makes it much easier to ask questions and have edifying conversations. However, while I am no longer threatened by folks smarter than me; I do still feel the need to compete with fellow Christians. I still have some spiritual maturing to do, apparently.
Sometimes, at church, I find myself singing a soprano harmony just loud enough that those around me can hear it. Now, to be honest, it’s nearly impossible for me not to sing harmony. This is why I never cared to lead worship because I prefer singing harmony. But, I would make sure that I was singing nice and loud, not to glorify God, but so that others could hear me.
Or, sometimes, I’d be at a Bible study, and I’d purposefully quote dozens of relevant Scriptures. My intention was no to create edifying discussion or to give others study material. No, my intention was to show-off. I wanted folks to know how many Scriptures I could recite, including chapter and verse, off the top of my head.
The worst is when a friend tells me of a sin they’re struggling with that I have also struggled with. They confide in me and confess their sins, as Scripture tells us to do. Sometimes, it’s so easy to brag about how far I have come and to see myself as miles ahead of others. What my brothers and sisters need is a hand up. They don’t need someone placing themselves on a pedestal above them, which is precisely what I would do. What I forget is that I am just as much a sinner in need of grace as they are. I’m not “miles ahead of them”. As a matter of fact, if I’m that prideful, perhaps I’m miles behind them. I need grace just as much as they do.
We aren’t competing with one another – we should be unified. We ought to build one another up, encourage one another, and bear each other’s burdens. We don’t need to show off and assume a place of superiority, certainly not. The Holy Spirit has been convicting me of this a lot lately.
The truth is I have come a long way, by the grace of God. Who I am today compared to who I was 5 years ago; it’s a night and day difference. That speaks nothing of me and speaks volumes of the transformative power of Christ. I was dead in my sins and have been made new in Christ. I need to be reminding myself of that every single day. I need to remember that my brothers and sisters deserve grace and encouragement; not my pompous attitude. That helps no one.
Further more, I do believe in accountability. I do believe in calling out sin. However, that needs to be done in love. If we call out sin in order to make ourselves look good, we are the ones who need to repent of our own pride, as I had to do. Considering how patient God is with us, perhaps it would serve us all well to be a bit more patient with one another.