And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
~ 2 Chronicles 19:6-7
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
~ Colossians 4:17
But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’S flock is carried away captive.
~ Jeremiah 13:17
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
~ 1 Timothy 4:16
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
~ 1 Peter 5:2-3
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:6-7
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
~ Isaiah 40:11
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
~ 1 Corinthians 10:32
Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.
~ Psalm 74:2
Use of Humiliation, by Richard Baxter. The following contains an excerpt from Chapter Three of his work, “The Reformed Pastor”.
1. One of our most heinous and palpable sins is pride. This sin has too large an interest in the best of us, but it is more hateful and inexcusable in us than in other men. Yet is it so prevalent in some of us, that it dictates our discourses, it chooses our company, it shapes our demeanour, and it puts the accent and emphasis on our words. It fills some men’s minds with aspirations and designs: it possesses them with envious and bitter thoughts against those who stand in their light, or who eclipse their glory in any way, or hinder the growth of their reputation. Oh what a constant companion, what a tyrannical commander, what a sly, subtle, and insinuating enemy this sin of pride is! It goes with men to the draper, the mercer, and the tailor7: it chooses for them their cloth, their trimming, and their fashion. Fewer ministers would style their hair and clothing according to the latest fashion, if it were not for the command of this tyrannous vice. And I wish this were all of it, or the worst of it. But, alas! How frequently it goes with us into our study, and there it sits with us and does our work! How often it chooses our subject, and, more frequently still, our words and ornaments! God commands us to be as plain as we can, so that we may inform the ignorant; and as convincing and serious as we are able, so that we may melt and change their hardened hearts. But pride stands by and contradicts everything, and produces its toys and trifles. It pollutes rather than polishes; and under a pretence of laudable flourishes, it dishonours our sermons with childish decorations: as if a prince was to be dressed in the costume of a stage-player, or a painted fool. It persuades us to paint the window, so that it may dim the light: and to say to our people things they cannot understand; to let them know we are able to speak well – but unprofitably. If we have a plain and cutting passage of Scripture, our flowery speech takes off the edge, and dulls the life of our preaching under the pretence of filing off the roughness, unevenness, and excess. When God charges us to deal with men as if for their lives, and to beg them with all the earnestness that we are able to muster, this cursed sin controls all of it, and condemns the most holy commands of God. It says to us, “What! Will you make people think you are mad? Will you make them say you are raving? Can you not speak soberly and moderately?”8 And thus pride makes many a man’s sermons; and what pride makes, the devil makes; and what sermons the devil would make, and to what end, we may easily conjecture. Though the subject matter is about God, yet if the dress, and manner, and end are from Satan, then we have no great reason to expect success.
And when pride has made the sermon, it goes with us into the pulpit; it forms our tone; it animates us in the delivery; it takes us away from what may be displeasing, however necessary; and it sets us in pursuit of vain applause. In short, the sum of all this is that pride makes men,
7 The draper is a seller of cloth; the mercer retails it with its accessories; and the tailor trims and fashions it for the consumer.
8 1Cor 14:23 – This passage concerns not speaking in tongues, so that all may be understood, and the church may be edified.
both in studying and preaching, seek themselves and deny God, when they should seek God’s glory and deny themselves. When they should inquire, “What will I say, and how will I say it, to please God best, and do the most good?”, it makes them ask instead, “What will I say, and how will I deliver it, to be thought a learned and able preacher, and to be applauded by all who hear me?” When the sermon is done, pride goes home with them; it makes them more eager to know whether they were applauded, than whether they prevailed to save souls. Were it not for shame, they could find it in their hearts to ask people how they liked them, and to elicit their praise. If they perceive that they are highly thought of, then they rejoice, having attained their purposes; but if they see that they are considered only weak or common men, then they are displeased, having missed the prize that they had in mind.
But even this is not all or the worst of it, if there can be worse. Oh, that it should ever be said of godly ministers, that they are intent upon popular air, and sitting high in men’s estimation. Or if it should be said that they envy the talents and names of their brothers who are preferred above them, as if any praise given to another was taken from their own praise; and as if God had given them his gifts to be their personal ornaments and trappings, so that they might walk as men of great reputation in the world; and as if all his gifts to others were to be trodden down and vilified, because they stood in the way of their own honour! What! A saint, a preacher of Christ, and yet he envies someone who bears the image of Christ, and he maligns his gifts for which Christ should receive the glory, and all because they seem to hinder his own glory. Is not every true Christian a member of the body of Christ, and, therefore he partakes of the blessings of the whole, and of each particular member of it? And does not every man owe thanks to God for his brothers’ gifts, not only having himself a part in them, as the foot has the benefit of the guidance of the eye; but also because his own ends may be attained by his brother’s gifts, as well as by his own? For if the glory of God and the Church’s happiness are not his end, then he is not a Christian. Will any workman malign another workman because he helps him do his master’s work? Yet, alas! How common this heinous crime is among the ministers of Christ! They secretly blot the reputation of those who stand in the way of their own reputation. What they cannot do plainly and openly, for fear they may be proved liars and slanderers, they do generally, and by malicious intimations; they raise suspicions where they cannot fasten accusations. And some go so far that they are unwilling to have anyone abler than themselves come into their pulpits, lest that person receive more applause than themselves. It is a fearful thing for anyone who has the least fear of God, to so envy God’s gifts that he would rather his carnal hearers remain unconverted, and the drowsy remain unawakened, than their conversion and awakening come at the hands of someone preferred above him. Indeed, this cursed vice prevails so far that in a number of large congregations, which need the help of many preachers, we can rarely get two of equality to live together in love and quietness, and to unanimously carry on the work of God. They contend for precedence, unless one of them is quite below the other in some area, and is content to be less esteemed; or unless he is an assistant to the other and is ruled by him. They envy each other’s influence, and they walk like strangers, with jealousy towards one another. This shames their profession, and greatly wrongs their people. I am ashamed to think that when I have been laboring to convince people of public influence and power, of the great need for more than one minister in large congregations, they tell me that two would never agree to work together. I hope the objection is unfounded for most; but it is a sad case that it would be true of any. No, some men are so far gone in pride, that when they might have an equal assistant to further the work of God, they would rather take the whole burden on themselves (even though it is more than they can bear), than to have anyone share their honour, or to have their influence diminished in the eyes of the people.
Out of pride, men also magnify their own opinions; they are as critical of anyone who differs from them in little things, as if it were the same to differ from them as from God. They expect everyone to conform to their judgment, as if they were the rulers of the Church’s faith; and while we decry papal infallibility, too many of us would be popes ourselves, and have everyone submit to our determinations, as if we were infallible. It is true that modesty will not let us say that expressly. Instead, we pretend that it is only the evidence of truth, apparent in our reasons, that we expect men to yield to; it is only our zeal for the truth, and not for ourselves. But if our reasons must be accepted as valid, then so must our truth. And if our reasons are openly examined, and found to be fallacious, then we refuse to see it, because they are our reasons; and so we become angry if our fallacious reasoning is disclosed to others. We defend the cause of our errors as if anything said against them is said against us personally; and as if we were heinously injured to have our arguments thoroughly refuted, those same arguments by which we injured the truth and the souls of men. Through our pride, the matter has come to this: that if an error or a fallacious argument comes under the patronage of a reverend name (which is nothing rare), then we must allow that argument the victory and give up the truth, or else we will injure the name that patronizes it. For even though you do not attack them personally, they put themselves under all the blows by which you assault their arguments. They feel them as sensibly as if you had spoken of them, because they think it follows in the eyes of others that weak arguing is a sign of a weak man. Therefore, if you consider it your duty to shame their errors and false reasonings by revealing their nakedness, they will take it as if you shamed them personally; and so their names become a garrison or fortress for their mistakes, and the reverence of their name requires them to defend all their sayings from attack.
So haughty indeed are our spirits, that when it is the duty of anyone to reprove or contradict us, we are commonly impatient with both the matter and the manner of it. We love the man who will say as we say, and have our opinion, and promote our reputation, though in other respects he may be less worthy of our esteem. But someone who contradicts us, and differs from us, and deals plainly with us as to our miscarriages, and tells us of our faults, is somehow ungrateful. Especially in managing our public discussions, where the eyes of the world are upon us, we can scarcely endure any contradiction or plain dealing. I know that railing language is to be abhorred, and that we should be as tender with each other’s reputation as our fidelity to the truth permits. But our pride makes too many of us think that all men despise us who do not admire us, indeed, who do not admire all we say, and do not subjugate their own judgments to our most obvious mistakes. We are so sensitive that a man can scarcely touch us without hurting us. We are so high-minded, that a man who is not versed in complimenting us, and skilled in flattery above the norm, can scarcely tell how to handle us. He must be so observant as to meet our expectations at every turn, not saying or neglecting anything that our haughty spirits will fasten on and take as injurious to our honour.9
I confess I have often wondered how this most heinous sin can be made so light of, and thought so consistent with a holy frame of heart and life, when we proclaim far less sins are so damnable in our people? And I have wondered even more to see the difference between godly preachers and ungodly sinners in this respect. When we speak to those who are drunkards, worldly, ignorant, and unconverted, we completely disgrace them, and lay it on as plainly as we can. We tell them of their sin, shame, and misery; and we expect them not only to bear all this patiently, but to receive it all thankfully. And most with whom I deal do take it patiently. Many gross sinners will commend blunt preachers the most, and say they do not care to hear a man who will not tell them plainly of their sins. But when we speak to godly ministers against their errors or their sins, if we do not honour them and reverence them, and if we do not speak as smoothly as we are able, indeed, if we do not mix commendations with our reproofs, and if the praise does not drown all the force of the reproof or refutation, then they take it as an almost insufferable injury.
9 Prov 19:11; Jam 1:19
Brothers, I know this is a sad confession, but the fact that all this exists among us should be more grievous to us than being told about it. If the evil could be hidden, I would not have disclosed it, at least not so openly, and in the view of all. But, alas! It was open to the eyes of the world long ago. We have dishonoured ourselves by idolizing our honour; we print our shame, and we preach it, thus proclaiming it to the whole world. Some will think I speak with too much charity when I call such persons godly men, those in whom so great a sin prevails, and to such an extent. I know, indeed, that where it is predominant in them, and it is not hated and bewailed, and it is not greatly mortified, there can be no true godliness; and I beg every man to exercise a strict wariness, and to search his own heart. But if all are graceless who are guilty of any pride, or who are guilty of most of the fore-mentioned evidences of pride, then may the Lord be merciful to the ministers of this land, and give us another spirit quickly; for then grace is rarer than most of us supposed. Yet I must say, that I do not mean to include all the ministers of Christ in this charge. It is spoken to the praise of Divine grace that we have some among us who are eminently known for their humility and meekness, and who are exemplary in these respects to their flocks and to their brothers. It is and it will be their glory; and it makes them truly honourable and lovely in the eyes of God and of all good men, and even in the eyes of the ungodly themselves. O that the rest of us were but such ministers! But, alas! This is not the case with all of us.
O that the Lord would lay us at his feet, in the tears of unfeigned sorrow for this sin! Brothers, may I expostulate this case a little with my own heart and yours, so that we may see the evil of our sin and be reformed! Is not pride the sin of devils – the first-born of hell? Is it not that in which Satan’s image greatly consists? And is it then to be tolerated in men who are engaged against him and his kingdom, as we are? The very design of the gospel is to abase us; and the work of grace is begun and carried on in humiliation. Humility is not a mere ornament of a Christian, but an essential part of the new creature. It is a contradiction in terms to be a Christian, and not be humble. All who will be Christians must be Christ’s disciples, and “come to him to learn,” and the lesson which he teaches them is, to “be meek and lowly.” 10 Oh, how many precepts and admirable examples our Lord and Master has given us to this end! Can we behold him washing and wiping his servants’ feet, and yet still be proud and lordly? Will he converse with the lowliest of people, and yet we avoid them as beneath our notice, and we think that only persons of wealth and honour are fit for our company? How many of us are found more often in the houses of gentlemen than in the cottages of the poor, of those who most need our help? Many of us would think it beneath us to be with the most needy and beggarly people daily, instructing them in the way of life and salvation; as if we had taken charge only of the souls of the rich!
Alas! What do we have to be proud of? Is it of our physical body? Why, is it not made of the same materials as the beasts; and will it not shortly be as loathsome and abominable as any other carcass? Is it of our graces? Why, the more proud we are of them, the less we have to be proud of. When so much of the nature of grace consists in humility, it is absurd to be proud of it! Is it of our knowledge and learning? Why, if we have any knowledge at all, we know how much reason we have to be humble; and if we know more than other men, we have more reason than they do to be humble. How little the most learned know compared to what they are ignorant of! Knowing that things are beyond your reach, and how ignorant you are, should be no great cause for pride. Do not the devils know more than you? And will you be proud of that in which the devils excel you? Our very business is to teach the great lesson of humility to our people; how unfitting it is, then, for us to be proud ourselves. We must study and preach humility; must we not also possess and practice humility? A proud preacher of humility is at least a self- condemning man. What a sad case it is, that so vile a sin is not more easily discerned by us.
10 Mat 11:29
Instead, many who are most proud blame others for it, and yet ignore it in themselves! The world can recognize some among us who have aspirations, and seek the highest positions, and must be the rulers, and hold sway wherever they go, or else there is no living or dealing with them. In any consultations, these men do not search for truth; rather they dictate to others who perhaps are better fit to teach them. In a word, they have such arrogant and domineering spirits, that the world buzzes about it, and yet they will not see it in themselves!
Brothers, I desire to deal closely with my own heart and yours. I beg you to consider whether it will save us to speak well of the grace of humility while we do not possess it, or to speak against the sin of pride while we indulge in it? Do not many of us have cause to inquire diligently whether sincerity is consistent with the measure of pride we feel in ourselves? When we are telling the drunkard that he cannot be saved unless he becomes temperate, and the fornicator that he cannot be saved unless he becomes chaste, do we not have as great a reason, if we are proud, to say to ourselves that we cannot be saved unless we become humble? Pride, in fact, is a greater sin than drunkenness or whoredom; and humility is as necessary as sobriety and chastity. Truly, brothers, a man may just as certainly (and more slyly) hasten to hell, despite his earnest preaching of the gospel, and his seeming zeal for a holy life, as he would by way of drunkenness and filthiness. For what is holiness but being devoted to God and living for him? And what is a damnable state, but being devoted to our carnal self and living for ourselves? And does anyone live more for himself, or less for God, than the proud man? And may not pride make a preacher study for himself, and pray and preach for himself, and live for himself, even when he seems to surpass others in the work? The work, without the right principle11 and end, will not prove us upright. The work may be God’s, and yet we may do it for ourselves and not for God. I confess that I feel such a continual danger on this point, that if I do not watch, I will study for myself, and preach for myself, and write for myself, rather than for Christ, and I would soon go wrong; after all, if I must condemn the sin, then I must not justify it in myself.
Consider, I beg you, brothers, what baits there are in the work of the ministry to entice a man to selfishness, even in the highest works of piety. The fame of a godly man is as great a snare as the fame of a learned man. Woe to the one who seeks the fame of godliness instead of godliness itself! “Truly I say unto you, they have their reward.”12 When the times were all about learning and empty formalities, the temptation of the proud inclined that way. But now, through the unspeakable mercy of God, the most vital and practical preaching is now in favor, and godliness itself is in favor. And so, the temptation of the proud is to pretend to be zealous preachers and godly men. Oh, what a fine thing is it to have the people crowding around to hear us, and to be influenced by what we say, yielding their judgments and preferences to us! What a captivating thing it is to be acclaimed as the ablest and godliest man in the country, to be famed throughout the land for the highest spiritual excellences! Alas, brothers, a little grace combined with such inducements, will serve to make you join those who would be pre-eminent in promoting the cause of Christ in the world. No, pride may do it by itself, without special grace.
Oh, therefore, be jealous of yourselves; and, amid all your studies, be sure to study humility. “The one who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”13 I commonly observe that almost all men, whether good or bad, loathe the proud and love the humble. But pride so denies itself that, conscious of its own deformity, it often borrows the homely dress of humility. We have all the more cause to be wary of it, because it is a sin most deeply rooted in our nature, and as unlikely as any to be fully purged from the soul.
11 That is, our motivation or intention. Principle is what governs our life and actions, for better or worse. Everyone is principled. The question is, “which principle governs us?” And so Baxter refers to the “right principle” here.
12 Mat 6:2,5,16
13 Mat 23:12