God can’t stand arrogance. I can’t stand arrogance either. The difference is, God is qualified to condemn arrogance and I’m not. He demonstrates humility despite being the only one with a right to be arrogant. I demonstrate arrogance despite only being qualified for humility.
To be arrogant in the presence of a holy God is unconscionable. To be arrogant in my presence is mostly just annoying.
It’s actually worse than just annoying; it damages both of us. If you get arrogant in front of me, my arrogance rises to try to top yours. And I can only assume you’ll up the ante to try to top me. So the race is on. Unfortunately, our escalating arrogance drives us both farther from God. We should be trying to outdo each other with the Philippians 2:3 mindset, “with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”. That would draw us both closer to God.
I can teach all day about how God gives us different gifts and personalities so that we can complement each other and together demonstrate the breadth of the glory of God. But put someone who sees things differently than I do in my face and I arrogantly want to “fix them” — that is, make them more like me. And should they disagree with me about something or stand in the way of my will, my arrogance inflates quicker than my car’s airbag.
Romans 7 describes my problem this way:
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want…I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Fortunately, it goes on to give us hope:
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
We can’t set ourselves free. We can’t stir up our own humility (we would be too proud of that achievement!) Humility is a gift from God — one we should plead for. But it’s also something we’re commanded to do, and obedience to God’s commands is our responsibility. So let us strive together, drawing on the power of Christ to lead us into the most powerful condition any person can achieve: The condition of being humble before God.