A Student Shares His Thoughts: The Lie Behind Self-Centeredness

Posted by Matthew Hoke on 10/20/17 9:06 AM

Garden of Eden

"You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." -Genesis 3:4-5 

Matt Hoke is vice president of the Patrick Henry College student body and regularly contributes devotional columns to the PHC student newspaper The Herald.

I want to address what I believe is the basis for many, if not all, of the self-centered thoughts I experience and fight. The questions I posed at the beginning of last week’s talk are examples of four categories of thoughts that I battle. These categories are the following: comparing myself against others, fear about my future, judging others, and anger at people affronting me. 

What is the common denominator between these four categories of thoughts? The main cause that I have found in my own heart is pride. The lie that the serpent whispered into Eve’s ear still informs and corrupts my thoughts.

What do I mean by that? How does the Serpent’s promise to Adam and Eve indicate pride? What is the link from that lie to these categories of self-centered thoughts? At the core of Satan’s lie was a sparkly appeal: the desire to be God.

Praying handsWhen Adam and Even ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were telling God that they were the masters of their own destinies, that they were not going to obey His command (Genesis 2:17). This original sin of our first parents was also Satan’s original sin (Ezekiel 28:11-19). He wanted to ascend to the place of God in Heaven, and, for that, he was cast out.

“Okay,” you may be thinking. “That's all true, but what is the connection to these categories of thoughts. After all, is not a lack of self-esteem a large part of why I think thoughts like these? Is pride really the root cause?”

I do not find any biblical justification for the notion of self-esteem. In fact, I believe it is inherently unbiblical, but I would like to talk with you about that at some other point.
However, what I do know is that, in my own heart, these four categories of thoughts are intimately and insidiously joined to my pride.

When I compare myself to others it is almost never out of a genuine desire to learn from that person. Rather, I compare because I want to be better than him or her at whatever they are doing. I cannot stand the fact that he or she may be better than me. This self-exalting mentality is inherently proud. It is the same mentality behind Satan’s lie and his original sin.

“But," you may say. “This is against people and not against God. So, how is this pride if you are defining pride as wanting to take the place of God?”

Reading the ScriptureI believe that by comparing in this manner, I am taking the place of God. God has told me to treat others with humility (Philippians 2:3-4), and He has told me that I am his special creation (Psalm 139:14). Comparing myself to others in a self-centered manner violates both of these principles. It sets myself up over others and tells God that He has not made me good enough, putting my will in the place of God’s.

Fearing about my future is likewise related to pride. I am not God. Even if I think I have great plans for me life, He is the only One that has a good plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11). Fear about my future is a foolish usurpation of God’s role in my life. By doing this I show I do not actually trust Him; I don’t believe that my Father has good plans for me. And, ultimately, I am saying that I can plan my life better than He can. This is pride.

Likewise, when I judge others I usurp God’s rule as Supreme Judge of each of our souls (James 4:12). This is a proud declaration of my own ability to discern the motives and heart of another individual. In addition, angry thoughts at the affronts of others is directly related to my pride. I cannot bear these affronts because they challenge my place as lord of a certain skill or ability. Instead, I ought to realize that all I have comes from my Father (James 1:17, 1 Corinthians 4:7, and John 3:27).

What is the penalty if I do not address the pride in my heart? It will not cost me Heaven, but it will cost me the support and pleasure of my Father (Proverbs 16:18, 1 Peter 5:5-6, Proverbs 8:13, and James 4:6).

Killing the pride that underlies these four categories of thoughts is serious business. But, what is the solution? Soon I hope to talk about what I have discovered to be the greatest solution to the pride in my heart

Discussion Questions

1. Does pride underlie the four categories of thoughts in your own life?
2. Are there other types of thoughts you have that may be rooted in pride?
3. What are some steps you can take to combat pride in your spiritual walk?
4. What do you think is the solution to the pride in our hearts?
5. Is pride as insidious and pervasive as Matt believes?

 

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