Cotton Mather, writing about the sin of young ministers, shared his own personal experience with the peril of spiritual pride.
“I found, that, when I met with enlargement in prayer or preaching, or answered a question readily and suitably, I was apt to applaud myself in my own mind. I affected pre-eminence above what belonged to my age or worth. I therefore endeavored to take a view of my pride–as the very image of the Devil, contrary to the grace and image of Christ–as an offence against God, and grieving of his Spirit–as the most unreasonable folly and madness for one, who had nothing singularly excellent, and who had a nature so corrupt–as infinitely dangerous, and ready to provoke God to deprive me of my capacities and opportunities. I therefore resolved to carry my distempered heart to be cured by Jesus Christ, that all-sufficient Physician-to watch against my pride–to study much the nature and aggravations of it, and the excellence of the contrary grace.”
It has been almost a month since I hastily jumped into the fray to “ask anything” with a question that had been burning on my mind for a long time. I feel that I have sufficiently explained the rationale behind the question and posited it with all sincerity and respect. I quickly found out, however, that the very presence of such a question would not be well-received by some. What I did not imagine, however, is that it would denigrate to questioning people’s salvation and impugning people’s motives. The discussion has continued to grieve me as it has turned away from the question itself to the ones asking and (presumably) answering the question on other blogs.
I was informed about Driscoll’s sermon this past week by a friend via email, and I watched the portion dealing with the “Ask Anything” project. On the same day, and unbeknown to me, my wife checked out the commentary on my question and was really upset by with what she read. For some, the question has provided laughter, others mockery, and others still to publicly question the character of people they do not know. I do not necessarily believe that Driscoll’s remarks at the beginning his message were directed towards me; I will leave that for him to determine as only he knows what his intentions were. I do believe that the conversation needs to come to a close as the focus has been drawn to Driscoll and myself. I am not concerned about the outcome of my question as much as I am the outcome of my sanctification and desire to honor my Savior. Driscoll expressed a genuine heart of contrition and repentance as he confessed his own pride in ministry, and I join him in the pursuit of humility and holiness that permeates every area of our lives, including our speaking and blogging. Indeed, the greatest outcome of this event is not a popular question but a purposeful reorientation to Christ and the glory of the cross. As Mather wrote, I realize there is “nothing singularly excellent” in me save the grace of God. I do not want to be the topic of discussion on any blog, including my own. It has always been my desire to display Jesus front and center in my life and through my blog, and when that does not happen, something must change.
So while I am grateful for the criticism which has help me see the unreasonable folly and madness of my own wicked and prideful heart, I am asking that this chapter come to a close that we might get our eyes back on Jesus. Let us “resolve to take our distempered hearts to be cured by Jesus Christ” and humbly live in view of our exalted and risen Lord.