When I first became a Christian I was so excited to learn and read anything I could get my hands on about the Christian faith. I was very hungry for the gospel. Thankfully God gave me (and he continues to give me) many great resources by faithful men of God: sermons, books, and blogs to learn the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And most importantly a biblical church in town that proclaims the truths of the gospel every single week.
Looking back on that time in my life is very encouraging, however, there were some dangers in learning truth for a young Christian like me with no older mature Christians around to shepherd me. The biggest danger for me was pride. It was a tendency to look down on other Christians who did not agree with my convictions about what Scripture taught. It was a tendency to have no patience whatsoever with people. It was a tendency to silently put down others in my own head. It was so bad. But the worst thing about it was I had no idea of my own sin. I thought that I was proclaiming truth and proclaiming what the Bible says. And that is good, but the problem was my wrong attitude.
It took about four or five years for God to slowly take away my pride with this issue. It started with my parents encouraging me to go to a local college group in town. They explained to me that it would be good to get to know some more Christians my own age. For about a year I resisted. I thought that the college group would be filled with professing Christians who had said the sinners prayer, but were not really following Christ.
I finally did end up going because a friend not involved in the group invited me to go. When I first went I had my doubts and I was closed-minded. I visited a couple more times, but never really got involved. During the next spring semester God used this college group to change my life in a way I never expected. I realized that these young people were true Christians, desiring to follow Christ with their whole hearts. Even if the doctrine or worship was not exactly as I would like.
God has been pleased to show me my sin and struggle in this area. Hopefully the following list will be helpful if you are struggling with pride.
1) We cannot expect everyone to be where we are. If we have come to a place in our Christian lives where we have learned some great truth (election, sovereign grace, gospel centeredness, etc) we should be thankful. We should be thankful that we can better serve Christ and others with that truth. However there is a tendency to totally despise other people because they do not understand it. Listen, we cannot expect everyone to understand these things at the same rate that we have. God works at different times and different levels with his people and he is a patient God. I'm afraid we don't imitate our God very well with being patient with others.
2) We cannot give ourselves any credit for what we learn. This is especially true for us who believe in God's sovereign grace. Meaning, that God rescued us when we were spiritually dead! Now that's funny that we affirm the sovereignty of God in conversion and totally forget it when we learn spiritual truth in sanctification! God has done this great work. Not us! We have learned to be gospel centered because God has been pleased to reveal that to us. We have no capacity to receive anything spiritual in our flesh.
3) We cannot be the final judge, only God is. I want to be careful though in this post. I don't want it to seem like there is no place for judging or correcting people who are in error. There is. We are to proclaim the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). However we are not the final judge in determining how other Christians are in learning truth or doctrine. I wonder if people who show no desire or rarely to learn the truth's of the Bible are Christians, but I must not pronounce a final judgement upon them. That is God's job. I must approach them humbly with the gospel and correct them lovingly.
I remember watching a video of R.C. Sproul talking about reformed doctrine and the danger of becoming prideful. He basically said that shouldn't be the case at all. Reformed doctrine is in no shape form or fashion pride lifting. It is pride smashing! May God help us to continue to grow in humility with others Christians who may not look exactly like we would like them to be.