by Sarah Van Diest
“For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught” Proverbs 3:26.
Where does confidence cross over into arrogance?
To be confident that the Word of God is truth is one thing, but to presume that my understanding of it is truth is another. Yes?
I know very little when I look at the whole of what I know in an honest light. I have very little I can stand on, but that which I stand on is enough. I don’t need much to keep my feet above the lies running hotly all around me. I only need space enough to stand.
When I feel fearful of the surrounding tide then I try to build my platform larger so I can ensure the sturdiness of my position…so I won’t fall off; so the bubbling, molten untruths below won’t scorch me. But I wonder what it is I create. When I pull what I call truth up close to me and attach it to what I know is truth, am I making a larger foundation that remains as firm as the original? Or am I creating a trap that if I were to step out onto the new additions to my flooring that they would collapse, leaving me to fall into the hot mess below?
Arrogance, I suppose then, is building that platform on my own and stepping out onto it. It may hold for a while, but if what I have made isn’t firm, isn’t truth, it will eventually give way.
How can I be sure about the veracity of my understandings? I test them with what I believe I know about God and His Word. Yes. I take them before wise and trusted Christ followers and ask them to analyze them. Yes.
But in the end, what is it that I stand on?
In the end, the only firm foundation I have is Christ. Truth depends not on my comprehension of it; truth is God Himself. I cannot create a platform sturdy enough to hold me, nor can my understanding of who God is be counted complete enough for me to stand on. The only way I can stand above the lies and in the truth is that God holds me there. It’s not my ability to grasp truth that makes my feet secure; it’s God’s ability and willingness to make my feet secure that ensures my footing.
I can only do what I can do. I can only judge truth from untruth as much as I am able. And that is all my Father asks of me. It is not on my judgment that He asks me to rely, it is on Him.
In the Garden, when Adam and Eve covered themselves to hide their nakedness, they judged poorly. Though God had declared them “good” unclothed, they looked at the information they had and made a different judgment call: “bad”. They covered up what God had made thinking their way was good. They chose their understanding of “truth” instead of God’s. Had they kept their Father’s description of good intact, the story would likely have ended differently. They could have walked toward restoring their broken relationship with Him instead of choosing to walk in their own understanding.
Had they chosen to rely on God’s judgment and not their own, the entire story may have been different.
So, what is the difference between confidence and arrogance? I think it must be a very simple answer: it’s an allegiance. Confidence, in the sense I am describing, is when we stand in faith that God is who He says He is; whereas arrogance is where we stand on our understanding of it all. Confidence is humbly being held up by Christ; arrogance is standing on our own two feet. Allegiance to God or allegiance to self seems to be the pivot point.
How often I stand alone! How often I rely on me! How deluded! And, yes, how arrogant! And how often I walk around in fear wondering if I am believing, doing, saying, thinking, etc. the “right” thing. But thanks be to my patient, loving Father who holds me up even when my arrogance would have me sink. That says everything about Him and who He is, and nothing about me and my great wisdom (or lack thereof).
There is peace in this understanding. There is rest here. I don’t have to walk this life with the burden on my shoulders that demands I understand it all. It frees me to submit and to surrender, to trust and to enjoy Him, to align myself with the truth instead of make certain I possess it. I will continue to study and be zealous in my search for wisdom, but my motivation won’t be fear. My motivation is a desire to know Him.
“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth” Psalm 86:15.
“Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy if from God” II Cor. 3:4, 5.
Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both and editor and an agent.
Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.