Love Is Not Arrogant

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.

Defining Arrogance

The origin of this word means “to puff up, to inflate”[1] It isn’t just someone who verbalizes pride, but someone who is thinks they are a hotshot. It is someone with a prideful demeanor or prideful swagger. While love says “I wish I could know all about you”, arrogance says, “I bet you wish you knew me” or “I’m better than you” or “here is who I am.” John MacArthur says arrogance is big-headed and love is big-hearted.[2]

Illustrating Arrogance

Arrogance is someone who minimizes their sins and failures and maximizes their victories or successes. John Piper reminds us that

“We all love to be made much of. We like to be admired. We like it when people notice our successes and miss our failures. We like it when we hear people say nice things about us. But we don’t like it when people make fun of us or criticize us or laugh at us or humiliate us. That is, it does not speak much about itself and is not puffed up with its achievements or too concerned about its hurts. Love is other-directed, not self-consumed.”[3]

Boasting is verbalizing pride; arrogance is accepting yourself as important and not doing anything to downplay others praise or flattery but allowing it to puff you up even bigger than your ego is. Arrogance has often led men to great falls – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).

A Biblical Example of Arrogance

Early in the letter to the Corinthians, Paul rebuked them for arrogance. They showed preference to some over others and served as judge and jury over what they wanted to hear and not what God had for them – “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another” (I Cor 4:6). They thought they were better than each other. In vs. 18-19, Paul said he would come to rebuke this arrogance. In Ch. 5, Paul rebuked their arrogance for believing they were above dealing with sexual sin. They also were arrogant with the “meat offered to idols” question by not showing deference to one another (I Cor 8:1).

A Biblical Example of Humility

An opposite example of arrogance is someone like John the Baptist. Even before Jesus arrived, John the Baptist realized that the very tying of Jesus’ sandals was a place of unworthiness for him (John 1:27). Sandals were probably just a piece of animal hide and a few strings. So as you could imagine, feet would get extremely dirty. Teachers were never paid in Palestine, but in order to compensate them in some ways for their services their students would perform small services for them. The lowest job was that of untying someone thong on their sandal. Because feet were so dirty, only the lowest servants would even stoop to untie the sandal of someone. And what John is saying is this: Jesus Christ is so above me that I am not even worthy to untie to his dirty sandal.

John the Baptist was dumbfounded that Jesus wanted him to baptized Him. He never said, “Jesus is lucky to have a faithful prophet like me.” He never told the crowds later, “Come get baptized by me – the baptizer of Jesus.” No, he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). That is not arrogance.



[1] The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, pg. 380

[2] 1 Corinthians, pg. 343



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