Arrogance as a Stumbling Block

Psalm 19:12 NRSV
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.

Romans 12:14-18 NRSV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

I’ve been embroiled in a conflict with a fellow Christian, an angry, destructive conflict. One I didn’t start, but where I’ve been back and forth: Do I fight? Do I give in? I felt that it was a real issue of morality, and yet, it was tearing me up inside. I couldn’t decide whether I was upset because I simply hate to fight or because I needed to just bow out of the conflict.

I was wrong. Not about this, but about a decision I had made years ago that was the seed of all this. I certainly didn’t think I was wrong; it was one of the “hidden faults” (or hidden sins). But I was. Verse 13 (of Psalm 19) talks about “presumptuous sins:”

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.

Presumptuous. The NCV says “the sins of pride.” I think sometimes we don’t see that even our hidden sins (the sins we don’t see) can also be sins of pride. I know that mine was. And I saw it so clearly yesterday.

The thing is, I know that the Lord would have revealed this to me if I had been open to seeing it. I have all kinds of excuses, reasons even that seem legitimate. But the fact was, I refused to be open to any option except the one I wanted to choose. This is one reason why I think that Paul taught (in Romans 12) that we are to bless those who persecute us.

Most of us have grown up with Saturday mornings westerns. White hats (the good guys) and black hats (the bad guys). Now I’m not trying to water down the reality of sin and evil. But the fact is, that as righteous as we think we are, if we are in conflict with someone else, we may have some fault in it. Even if they are totally wrong in their participation, the Lord may be using the situation to try to teach us something, even (as with me) a lesson about a decision far in my past, a decision I refused to evaluate from any other view except my own.

I’m eternally grateful for a God Who looks past the reality of my sin to the intent of my heart, which was to do the right thing. I tried, but because I allowed my emotions (rather than my faith) to rule my decision, I erred. And I erred for a long time (when I could have made things right). I’m grateful that He is a God whose love reaches out in mercy and forgiveness:

He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
Psalm 103:10-13 NRSV