Wearing a Religious Hat

Taking oneself too seriously is a sin, and Christians sin this way a surprising amount.

We’re not surprised to see an unbeliever take himself too seriously. Showing off and then getting ticked off when others don’t acknowledge the greatness on display is natural for the natural man. We see Mr. Thinks-he’s-great at work all the time and it’s no surprise that he’s mad when others laugh.

But how does this happen among believers, among us? Christians take themselves too seriously due to the exact same problem. Pride still remains in our hearts, we just use Bible verses to defend it. It isn’t a different sin at all. It’s the same sin wearing a religious hat.

We must take some things seriously because God takes them seriously. Husbands ought to sanctify their wives by the washing of the water with the word (Ephesians 5:25-26). That’s serious. But, husbands, it’s not serious because we’re awesome. It’s serious because the husband/wife relationship illustrates Christ and His Bride.

Parents, in particular fathers, we will answer to God for bringing our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). That’s serious, but it’s serious because of His standards, not ours. God gave us stewardship, but that stewardship is to point them to their great Father, their heavenly Father.

Church leaders and disciplers also fall into cul-de-sac ministry, becoming dead-end authorities rather than speaking authoritatively about someone else, the Head of the Church, the Lord who commissioned the work. We take ourselves too seriously when we fight more for others to respect us than revere Him.

Pastor-centered shepherding is still man-centered ministry, parent-centered families are not better than child-centered ones, and husbands who get angry because their sacrifice was ignored miss the point. In some ways, the pointy heads of pride under these hats are worse because they should know better, and should be more experienced at killing pride rather than justifying it.

Those Who Do Nothing Wrong

We’ve been on a roll reviewing some of the ways we distance ourselves from personal repentance, especially through various deflection techniques. Popular deflections include recrimination or counteraccusation, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, and whatever you say you do worse than I do.” Then there’s credentialism, demanding to see a badge of authority before offering to pay any attention. We also examined the offensive technique of first-strike, rebuking someone who we know will take it in order to throw the attention off of ourselves. Here’s one more technique that starts defensive and turns offensive.

I’m not sure what the word for it is, but it goes something like this. Person U approaches Person I and says, “It really seems that you are angry.” Person I responds, “But what about last week when I wasn’t mad at you? What about all those times when I haven’t been angry?”

Sure, what about last week? Agreed, Person I wasn’t mad last week. But we’re talking about this time, not those times.

Person I digs in, “Well, why aren’t you thankful for all the nice things I’ve said to you? That’s wrong!” Person U is confused. “Who said I wasn’t thankful for all those? I am thankful, that’s part of the reason I’m concerned about this. This doesn’t fit with those. This needs to be dealt with.”

Third person observers know that this is not a good situation. This is how Person I deflects confession and repentance by attempting to make the other person feel guilty for something completely unrelated. “I covered the dunghill with snow. Why are you (sinning by) complaining about the stink?” “Even though I was punching you in the gut, at least I had my left arm around you holding you up. Where’s the thanks for that?”

There is no forgiveness for those who do nothing wrong. There are few relationships that can survive with this type of perfect person who does nothing wrong, either. We should pray that God won’t allow us to get away from sin in our hearts no matter how hard we try.