Perception of an Arrogant Man
Does an arrogant man know he’s arrogant? I find myself pondering this simple question. I’ve even been known to ask brethren this query as I, myself, battle this conscientious misperception. When confronting arrogance, basic human nature is often annoyed and tends to disregard the words of such a nuisance. And contrary to what some may pose, I am of the opinion an arrogant man often does not know of his own guilt in this naming. It can be one’s very nature to assume overconfidence and see past it as a point of pride. But sadly, could we all be guilty of such arrogance we would never think to own? To remove confusion, I identify arrogance like Google as “the quality of being unpleasantly proud and behaving as if you are more important than, or know more than, other people.” To me, this definition seems riddled by subjective interpretation. While one would hope they could identify being personally “unpleasantly proud,” expecting people to flee from you, practice regular avoidance, or call you out for your vanity - may not happen as expected. We just do not know of others’ personal limitations in behavior. To assume such would be placing our selves in a position of regular disappointment. And, if finding ourselves friendless in this world, greater self-analysis could be mentally unsettling, resulting in extremely unlikable results from further misplaced assumptions. Prevention is best taken with a concern and understanding of other perspectives. Could it be that others “know more than we” in their own interpretation? Under the guise of speaking knowledge, can we, ourselves, be misunderstood as “behaving more important, or knowing more than others?” Is this part of character overlooked even as we deem ourselves “doing right in sharing truth?” We should be ready for considerate communication. Life is full of ups and downs, and we often find ourselves associating with those with whom we share a bond. In this, do we find ourselves overly focused on special status we hold within our chosen groups? Do we ask ourselves why we hold that status? To contribute in godly fellowship, or because we seek a position of pre-eminence? In our most attentive company, with what practices do we find ourselves enjoying our free time? Or, to whom do we attract? Many times we may feel we are doing our part to lead a worldly group of friends to “better, godly practices.” But, what successes do we really achieve? If effective, the effort is worthwhile. But, godly words of wisdom echo over time - “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33.) Should we be sensitive that influence is shared both ways? Lest we feel righteous and think, “well at least I spend a large amount of my time in bible study with brethren.” To what emotion is that appeal? Do we assemble to receive praise and camaraderie solely in our exclusive knowledge of the word? Or, is there a greater purpose to sharing thoughts in public? While it is a good thing to believe and better understand our Lord, “even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) Misused knowledge can often lead to unwanted consequences. Do we really attempt to understand the truth and serve our Lord with all reverence and deeper understanding? Do our words and actions invite others to explore the mystery of Christ? Or, are we only ready to participate in these actions, knowing we are seen and well supported by a number of fellow like-minded Christians. When life presents temptation, how true is our walk elsewhere? Truly, knowledge is good and to be shared with the world? But, oftentimes do we refrain from speech simply so others are not offended? Should we be surprised if the world displays moments of contention? The Hebrew writer forewarns, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) To open our mouths, should we expect a reaction? If to call out sin, what emotion should be expected before acceptance and repentance? Do we fear the backlash and cower in silence? Or sadly, do we find ourselves defensive when called to consider? Our own reaction must be measured and thoughtful. A harsh word can turn away a soul. Yet, we have responsibility. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17) This is not an invitation to repulse. It is a command to obey and bring others to the truth in the Lord. If we find that we do not take issue with some worldly things that justify sin, what exactly do our chosen words and works say? Can your impression of a person evolve like scripture? You see it at one moment and understand, but the next your life has changed. Your perspective is refreshed. Your eyes appreciate new possibilities and understanding. A vision fails to emerge from the shadows if you never permit it light. Can we be blinded as this? Do we sleepwalk through life with predetermined notions of the people we meet outside our building’s doors? Do we quickly pass judgment in our daily routines? Are we selective in bringing others to Him? To what single group is the fellowship of our Lord and Saviour disallowed? Again, when asked about the arrogant man’s self-awareness, does he know? Of course not! Such acknowledgement drives to his very core. Who could own that mantle and be satisfied with a carefully held and manicured place in the world? We seek a comfort of love, belonging, and stability. Why dare we shake a foundation so fragile? Another group, another time, but righteous in thought - how many Pharisees do you believe went to their deathbeds thinking they were lost? Be arrogant? Self-righteous? Never! “If we are simply making our own walk straight, isolated from the world, and walking together.” Are we justified? We could stumble, but our rest is eternal with truthful change. While safe, “caring,” and right, we should be sure to seek the light of God in all things. Have you ever really wondered about the narrow path of Matthew 7:13-14? Do not believe it is narrow simply because they ran out of “concrete.” It is narrow, like a precious animal trail, enduring displacing hardships, but transporting to vitality of eternal life.
- Ryan Griffith