I don’t talk to my favorite theologian everyday. But I did chat with R.C. Sproul last Spring. Not in person, unfortunately, but online. Ligionier Ministries held a Twitter Q&A with Sproul for one hour. So I asked a question — and he actually replied. And even though this was several months ago, I think about Sproul’s answer almost daily.
What was my question, you ask?
I asked a question about pride and success. Sure, I could have struck a nerve with double predestination or eschatology or whatever. But I can find those answers on my own. I wanted to ask a question that only Sproul could answer, so I asked this:
@rcsproul How do you stay humble in light of the very fruitful ministry God has entrusted you with? #AskRC
— David Qaoud (@DavidQaoud) March 25, 2015
I want an answer to this question: Is it harder to stay humble when you experience more success? I genuinely want to know if famous Christians have a harder time with humility.
So, I asked Sproul.
I thought he would say what Christians usually say:
“Read more books.”
“Devote yourself to the spiritual disciplines.”
All of these are good answers, to be sure, and things we can and should pursue. But Sproul had something else in mind. And like a good teacher, Sproul answered my question with, well, a question. Indeed, a question I’ll never forget:
.@DavidQaoud What could make us more humble than to be a recipient of such grace?
— R.C. Sproul (@rcsproul) March 25, 2015
And that’s when, as they say, everything changed.
A Call to Remembrance
Paul calls the Gentile believers to remembrance in Romans 11. After explaining in length the doctrine of election in the previous chapters, he warns against pride for being picked. He didn’t want the elect to think they were elite.
“…do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you (Romans 11:18).
If you are arrogant . . . remember.
Not purge yourself.
Not pray for nine hours.
Not give all your money to the poor.
For Paul, the antidote to arrogance is remembrance. As Kevin DeYoung says, “Remembrance is one of the most important aspects of the Christian faith.”
So, you remember. You remember Christ had to die for you. You remember Christ was glad to die for you. You remember all your gifts are from above. In the Christian life, when you’re struggling with pride, what you need to do is remember God’s grace in the gospel.
Yes, spiritual disciplines matter.
Yes, community matters.
Yes, you should do everything in your power to fight pride. Yes, yes, and amen.
But don’t overlook Sproul’s words just because they’re 140 characters.
When you feel pride creeping in, stop and take a deep breath. Breathe. Exhale. Remember the gospel. And then look in the mirror and ask, “How can I be arrogant when I’ve been a receipt of such grace?”
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