READ: Psalm 65, Ezekiel 28-30, Mark 9, Romans 16
Arrogance tends to be verbalized. While it is true that we can retreat into a haughty and condescending silence, for the most part we unveil our arrogance by what we say about ourselves and others. Arrogance is but a manifestation of insecurity, for arrogance functions on the premise that in putting others down it is possible to lift ourselves up. God absolutely hates arrogance and He goes to great lengths to drive it out of His people. It is impossible to correctly represent Jesus from a prideful pulpit, for pride distorts the image of God. Building on the premise that arrogance is but insecurity in disguise, our insecurity tends to be verbalized in these primary ways:
Self-Serving Speech. Paul castigates those who with “smooth speech and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18). When we use our verbal gifts to manipulate or distort truth to get our way, it is offensive to God. We may be golden tongued and able to convince others but Jesus is singularly unimpressed. Manipulators (even Christian ones) have learned to be wise in what is evil (v. 19), for there is nothing manipulative or deceptive about God. It is in this context of deceptive speech that we have the intriguing image of the God of peace crushing Satan under our feet (v. 20). Self-serving speech lifts up Satan, and Jesus does not long tolerate this rebellion.
Speaking When We Should Be Silent. Much of our speech is simply foolish and contributes nothing of life to the hearer. Peter is the poster child for speaking when he should have shut up. Mark 9:5-6 gives us the insightful commentary: “Peter…not knowing what to say….said….” Arrogance and insecurity tend to blabber; humility and security are comfortable in their silence. Humility listens, and the more lowly you are, the more quick you are to listen and the slower you are to speak. Jesus is absolutely thrilled with those who listen to Him more than they talk to Him. Somehow we have come to believe that prayer is best defined by talking to Jesus. How delighted Jesus is by those who just linger in His presence saying nothing, asking nothing, just waiting for Him to speak. Humility in prayer is evidence by listening more than petitioning.
Defending Ourselves. Psalm 119:23 reminds us that the best response to the insecurity of others (which also usually manifests in verbal attacks and criticisms) is to meditate on God’s Word. Our natural inclination is to use words to defend ourselves. This too is insecurity. God wants us to have the security in Him to utter not a word in self-defense. The more strenuously we defend ourselves, the more indicative it is that we are insecure, and more so that we are actually arrogant.