About once a week I get asked an all-familiar question: what books do you recommend I read?
Here is my answer (in no particular order):
Pride is the state of a heart that has become self-reliant, self-inflated, and God-ignoring. We are all prone to it. But what makes pride so dangerous is its pervasive ability to hide from oneself. This is why the Bible continually commends the people of God to live in community with one another to expose sin and to receive grace. However, we should be aware that there are seven traits that all prideful people reveal in their day-to-day behavior; this should lead us to examine our hearts and expose the ever-hiding pride in our hearts.
1. Frequently fire-off opinions and quick judgments.
Prideful people believe that they have a "gift" of discernment that allows them to see brokenness and sin in others with complete accuracy. Because of this, they tend to make judgments and freely give their (often negative) opinion of others. They often neglect to look for reasons to rejoice at God's work in others because they are too preoccupied looking for sin. Prideful people tend to judge themselves by their motives and others by their actions.
2. Are often fearful about the future.
Prideful people are overly concerned with the future because they believe the lie that they are in control. They mistakingly think that the success or failure of their future is reliant upon their ability to come through. This causes them to wear anxiety like a straight jacket while living in an always-fretful life.
3. Are overly concerned with what others think.
Prideful people want others to think well of them so much that they shackle themselves to others opinions. When someone thinks highly of them, it goes to their head. When someone thinks unfavorably of them, it cuts straight to the heart. Prideful people live their lives trying to please others because they want to be viewed as competent, able, and successful.
4. Are defensive and easily offended.
Prideful people think so highly of themselves that they dismiss critiques and become easily injured when their sin is exposed. They don't ask others around them for feedback in fear of having their brokenness exposed. Consequently, when others expose their brokenness, they immediately assumed that their perspective is flawed at best and wrong at worst.
5. Feel unenthusiastic or threatened by the success of others.
Prideful people rejoice at the failures of others and mourn at the success of others. They tend to secretly hope that their peers fail so that they can feel more superior. When others do succeed, they don't celebrate with them; instead, they avoid them and even spite them. Prideful people love to win and hate when others do.
6. Routinely spend more time talking than listening.
Prideful people love to talk about what they know, who they know, and why you should know what they know. They like to talk. They love to use you as an audience for them to proclaim their infinite wisdom and knowledge. At the same time, prideful people don't listen well. After all, what's the point in listening when I would rather hear from myself anyways?
7. Don't pray.
Prideful people don't pray because prayer, by definition, requires humility. Therefore they live their lives void of prayer—especially in the simplest of things. They don't believe they need God's grace throughout their day because they are sufficient in and of themselves. Proud people do not pray.
A new year is upon us which means we are frantically thinking about what we will resolve to do. In 2008, Sinclair Ferguson delivered a message at the Desiring God National Conference that included 20 God-honoring resolutions from the book of James. I commend them to you:
Christmas is full of wonderful things. Time with family & friends. Delicious cookies. Beautiful lights. And, of course, gifts. For many people, Christmas is a time to gather with others to give and receive gifts of all kinds—from toy trucks to gift cards to t-shirts that we’ll never wear—no doubt; this Christmas will be full of gifts.
The Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about gifts. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul is urging the church at Corinth to be a generous people for the sake of the gospel by reminding them of the generosity of God’s grace towards us in Christ. And as he is reminding them of God’s grace in the gospel, he writes, v.15, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” It’s as if Paul, upon reflecting on Jesus coming to save sinners, sat back in his chair and said in amazement: Thank You, God, for this gift!
To say that God’s love for us in Christ is inexpressible is to say that there will never be a day when it will cease to amaze those who know it.
How great is this gift, you ask? It is “inexpressible,” which tells us two things about God’s love for us in Christ:
1. It never runs out.
The word “inexpressible” literally means, “beyond comprehension.” He uses this language again when he writes to the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:19 prays that they might know, “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” In other words, if the gospel were a body of water, Paul says, “You can swim as far down as you can, but you’ll never reach the bottom.” That is how great God’s love for us is. And that is the very gift that those of us in Christ have received—God’s inexpressible love.
2. It never grows old.
To say that God’s love for us in Christ is inexpressible is to say that there will never be a day when it will cease to amaze those who know it. This isn’t true of any gift you and I have ever received. Food eventually expires. Clothes shrink and fade over time. Toys get dull and boring. But those in Christ have God’s love—a gift that will never grow old. Such that ten thousand years we will still be saying with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
This Christmas, celebrate the only gift that never runs out and never grows old. The very gift that we will be talking about for all eternity—that Jesus saves sinners. So, may God bless you this Christmas season as you reflect on God’s inexpressible gift. Merry Christmas!
Charles Spurgeon once said, "Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read." Every year I assemble a list of the best books I've read in the given year. My hope is that this list will serve you in that it 1) inspires you to read more in 2019 and 2) gives you a couple of ideas of books to read. So, Tolle Lege!
10. No Quick Fix by Andy Naselli
9. Teaching as Jesus Taught by Roy Zuck
8. Great at Work by Morten Hansen
7. The Preacher's Catechism by Lewis Allen
6. The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
5. Unstuck by Matt Perman
4. Some Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson
3. Charles Spurgeon on the Christian Life by Michael Reeves
2. Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Warren
1. C.S. Lewis on the Christian Life by Joe Rigney