Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Respectable Sins: Chapters 11 and 17 "Pride" and "Judgementalism"

There’s lot of overlap in these chapters so I’d like to consider the respectable sins of pride and judgementalism together. In addressing these sins, let’s remember Jesus promise to those who take sin and holiness seriously –

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The sins we’re addressing are those we’re inclined to not take seriously. After all, I have enough serious sin to deal with in my life, so my management approach is to prioritise my sins. I devise a mental “hit-list” of those requiring immediate attention, and the “roundtuit” list of those I’ll hopefully get around to dealing with.

The problem is, the sins on the “roundtuit” list gradually become tolerable, and eventually I can’t even see them in my daily life. I no longer name them as sins, they’re simply “my personality”.

Our hearts are deceitful above all else (Jer 19) and it’s convenient, (and far less painful!) to dismiss some sins as “not relevant to me” or “not my issue”. But we’re to be holy as our Father is holy (1Pet1). We’re not expected to conquer all our sins this side of heaven, but we are called on to take all sin seriously and begin putting it off (Eph 4), and not excuse, tolerate, minimise or dismiss sin. Knowing that, in Christ, the penalty for our sins has been paid and the powerful reign of our sinful nature has been defeated is a great motivation for us to actively co-operate with the Spirit’s transforming work in us.

Did you notice the recurring theme of humility in this chapter? If you’re interested in thinking more about cultivating a humble heart, you might find C J Mahaney’s “Humility – True Greatness” a helpful read.

In Chapters 7 to 20 Jerry Bridges bravely and helpfully alerts us to some of the subtle ways in which judgementalism and pride can be present in our lives. I think these
help us to identify the presence of these two sins in our lives, where previously we blind to them.

* the pride of moral superiorty,
* the pride of doctrinal superiority,
* the pride of achievement – by us or those with whom we identify closely (family,
church, school, denomination).
* the pride of an unteachable attitude – or as Bridges calls it, an independent spirit.

I’d like to add,
* the pride of a self sufficient attitude – the unwillingness to accept help, or to be dependent on others. This is a subtle sin for those of us who have been brought up to be independent , who with a full basket of life, people and professional skills. Fo rmay women we’ve been reared and trained to value and pursue personal competency, relational and financial independence. If life has been tough we may have learnt to be survivors and rely only on ourselves. We can be proud of this and unwilling to accept the grace of God expressed in the kindness, provision and care of his people.

Bridges suggests that the sin of judgementalism is present
* when we elevate personal preferences and convictions to the status of Biblical truth,
* when we hold our Biblical convictions with pride and self righteousness, but without humility,
* when our doctrinal disagreements include character assassination and slander, and
* when we have become habitually judgemental and developed a critical spirit.

Where to from here?
“Pray over (these) chapter(s), asking God to bring to your mind any tendencies of pride (or judgementalism) in these areas and then confessing them as sin. As you do so, remember God’s promise in Isaiah 66:2 :This is the one I to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (p99)

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