The deception of arrogance

I was flipping through my Bible this morning, headed for a passage in the book of Jonah, and the pages stopped in Obadiah.  Like WHEN have I read much in Obadiah??? Apparently I did at some point because I had prominently marked a verse in this tiny little book, the shortest in the OT. It must've struck me then as it did today. Powerful. Maybe it will hit you that same way.

The arrogance of your heart has deceived you. v. 3

Boom.  Short, maybe not so sweet. Powerful.

Let's look at the two parts to the message - arrogance and deception - and the link between the two.

The Hebrew word that we translate as "arrogance" is "zadown" and it means "to presume to have more authority than is warranted".  My study Bible doesn't give me the Hebrew word for "deceived" but I know what Webster's says it means - to believe something that is not true.

So if my heart is arrogant, that means that I make unjustified demands or take liberties, regard myself as being entitled to privileges that are not mine to have. And that causes me to believe things are one way when actually they are another. 

Such belief then causes me to act on that because we behave what we believe.In essence, arrogance deceives me and leaves me in a  place of self-UNawareness. I do not even know what I am doing, how I am perceived , or the collateral damage of my behavior.

This verse caused me to reflect on situations I've observed recently. People that I know well enough to know that they thought they were being helpful or legitimized or at least just plain right.  A parent intruding on a sports practice, advising a coach how to do his job. A young adult defying parental counsel in an attempt to be independent. A friend dispensing unasked for advice about a situation he only partially understood.  A non-profit disregarding wise guidance from its volunteers, assuming its (paid) leaders are always right. 

In reality, these folks were not helpful or justified or right.  They were just plain overbearing. Dogmatic. Rebellious. Insecure.

And the fallout...alienation. Fractured relationships. Withdrawal of support. Loss of regard and respect. Future interactions jeopardized. 

The folks in these situations are well-intentioned. I am sure of it. 

But they were deceived.  They had no idea how they were being received. Because they could not see what everybody else could see. 

As I pondered this rather obscure verse in the oft-overlooked book of Obadiah, I knew that the Lord's message was not about these situations I had observed.  The Lord's word was for me.

What are my areas of deception?  Where am I presuming to have unwarranted authority or feeling entitled wrongly?                                                                                                            Where are my own places of arrogance?

And the all-important questions is ---what can I do about it?

To disarm the deception, we must replace lies with truth. We must invite the Holy Spirit to shine His light into our hearts and reveal the areas of deception. It may very well be painful to face the places where we are walking in deceit, parts of our behavior and personality where we are offensive, even in ignorance. Without that courageous look , though, we will continue to act in ways that are blind to the needs of others, to realistic perception, to genuine love.

 But that is not enough. We must also address the arrogance, the pride of presumption. That pride is so deadly and destructive that God is committed to ridding us of it.  Either we can humble ourselves before Him (I Peter 5:6) or He will humble us Himself (Daniel 4:37). 

Oswald Chambers defines pride as "the deification of self". 

So the antidote for pride is to recognize God for Who He is, to acknowledge Him as worthy, to embrace His rightful claim on my life.

And to be continuously, vigilantly on guard against arrogance and the deception it spawns.