What motivates you: arrogant pride or humble submission?

There are 2 character traits that are very important for service to the Lord: humility and submission. Humility about yourself towards others and towards God. Submission first to God and then to each other. Without these character traits, the Apostle Paul said you will be just like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. All noise. No benefit. If you consider these opposite character traits, it is obvious why pride and arrogance cannot serve the Lord. What motivates you?

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Consider: what is motivating you?

Is arrogant pride motivating you to accomplish what you consider to be great things for God? These motivations lead to selfish ambition, jealousy, boasting, and lying. Is humble submission motivating you to serve God when, where, and how he directs? These motivations lead to love, mercy, gentleness, and kindness. What motivates you? What is the fruit of your motivations? These deep questions need to be pondered…

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. (2 Timothy 2:24-25)

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18)

But God shows us even more kindness. Scripture says, “God opposes arrogant people, but he is kind to humble people.” (James 4:6)

Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

Examine yourself: what is motivating you?

If your self-examination reveals arrogant pride to be motivating you to accomplish what you consider to be great things for God, then stop, get down on your knees and confess your sin to God. He already knows. He wants you to acknowledge that you know. He can change your life if you let him. Then confess your faults to one another. They already know. They need you to acknowledge that you know. They will accept your changed life if you let them.

If you wait until you are 100% sure your motives are 100% pure before you serve the Lord, you will never do anything.

If your self-examination reveals some arrogant pride and some humble submission, welcome to the human race. Everybody sometimes is motivated by arrogant pride. When you realize it, and fall on your face before God in the sight of those you have hurt, then you are being motivated by humble submission. If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge sometimes we are motivated by arrogant pride and sometimes we are motivated by humble submission. Thank God he doesn’t expect sinless perfection, “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the LORD remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
(Psalm 103:7-18)

If your self-examination reveals only humble submission and no arrogant pride, I don’t think you are being honest with yourself. I have never met anyone except Jesus Christ who could honestly say they had no arrogant pride. It reminds me of the story about a man who was voted Most Humble in his town and awarded a medal of honor. After a few days, they had to rebuke him and take away the medal because he was wearing it. Arrogant pride can sneak up on us when we least expect it. When that happens confess, forsake, and repent.

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