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The DEEP

Eyes of Compassion

Versus the eyes of pride

Proverbs 6:16-17

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,

 

Proverbs 30:12-13

12  There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
 

13  There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are lifted up.

 

Proverbs 11:2

2 When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.

 

By all accounts, Amy Carmichael was one of the most humble and pure-hearted of Christ’s servants who ever lived. Born in County Down, Ireland in 1867, she was a devout young believer who had a heart for sharing the Gospel with those around her. Just out of her teens, Amy began a Sunday school among mill girls in Belfast, and the fellowship soon grew to several hundred. Soon, she was called to work among the mill girls of Manchester, and after hearing Hudson Taylor speak, soon volunteered for service as a missionary. 

Amy struggled in her health, suffered from a number of chronic ailments, including neuralgia. Kept from foreign service in China, she traveled to Japan and then to India where she began work in earnest. In 1901, Amy formed the Dohnavur Fellowship and began to work among young girls who had been forced into temple prostitution.   

There, Amy found her true calling. She founded an orphanage and a shelter for women, and shared the love of Christ with thousands. Missionary Elizabeth Elliot later wrote that when girls were asked what drew them to the mission, the girls would often reply, “"It was love. Amma (Tamil for 'mother', referring to Amy) loved us.”

This love has its root in the love of Jesus, and is reflected in the words of “If,” a poem penned in the night by Amy as her heart wrestled with the spiritual plight of a young girl in her care: 

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.- Amy Carmichael, “If”

When you read her sincere and simple words, you see that Amy Carmichael looks upon her world and those within it with the eyes of her Savior, and in doing so, see those whom He would have her love in His name. These eyes are not the eyes of the proud or self-interested, they are eyes of sympathy and love.

Solomon, in his instructions to the youth of Israel, returns again and again to the folly of human pride. Pride is that sin that, spore-like, gives birth to a myriad other sins–or gives the heart fertile ground for them to grow. God, quite simply, hates the pride of man:

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,–Proverbs 6:16-17a

In a previous study, you considered how pride comes before a fall, and how the very eyes of the proud are a source of their foolishness before God. The haughty looks of ancient pagan kings, kindled the fire of Jehovah into a pyre of holy destruction that fell upon their kingdoms. 

Is God so touchy that He cannot stand a sideways look? Mocking the Ancient of Days with a prideful look is far more grievous than two siblings fussing in the backseat of a station wagon on a long, hot family roadtrip: “MOM! He looked at me funny!” 

No, these are men who, raised up in earthly rank through despoliation, bloodshed and political maneuvering, now carry themselves in a manner of superiority over others–and in the face of God. God, who despite their ignorance, is the author of their rise through His providence and plan–that even includes the wicked. 

Their eyes survey their earthly dominions, they lift their eyes in arrogance, but not to look to heaven in gratitude:

12  There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
 

13  There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are lifted up.–Proverbs 30:12-13

Proverbs 30 is part of a section of ancient wisdom that Solomon has incorporated into his textbook. “The words of Agur, son of Jakeh” are thought by scholars to be from a similar collection of proverbs that the Spirit of the Lord inspired Solomon to use. It is also possible that Agur is simply another (or “pen name”) of Solomon himself. Nevertheless, that have value here. 

The “lofty eyes” and “lifted up eyelids” translate literally in Hebrew to “lift up the pupils.” Their eyes of the proud are raised in defiance of God, as if they have achieved earthly supremacy all on their own. Their eyes betray their pride, as commentator Bruce Waltke explains:

Outward visage of their eyes reveals the inner disposition of their insubordinate hearts. –Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

There are forms of pride in this life that can be good, in a basic and everyday manner. You can take pride in your appearance to help earn a promotion at work, or be appropriately attired for social settings. You can have pride in accomplishments in music or other talent. Pride of place can make townspeople live like good neighbors with well-kept lawns and a winning ball team that will surely take state this year. 

These are not self-crippling, God-defying forms of pride–unless you allow them to be. Thomas Aquinas wrote in his Summa Theologica, “Now pride is the appetite for excellence in excess of right reason.” It is success outside all proper proportion. He continued, quoting Augustine’s City of God:

Wherefore Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 13) that pride is the "desire for inordinate exaltation": and hence it is that, as he asserts (De Civ. Dei xiv, 13; xix, 12), "pride imitates God inordinately: for it hath equality of fellowship under Him, and wishes to usurp His dominion over our fellow-creatures.”–Aquinas (and Augustine)

Pride eats away at your heart and fills you with a desire to be seen and treated as superior to others around you. It is easy to run to a caricature of proud person in your mind, one of those gold-crowned kings of old, a tycoon of big business, those snobs at the country club, or the monocled “Monopoly guy.” Pride is more crafty a tool of satan, and more invasive a sin that that. 

You can be proud in your acts of humility and sacrifice. It is tempting to feel inordinate satisfaction in placing more than a few dollar bills in the offering plate, in supporting missionaries, serving on committees, and even bringing a dish of “mac n’ cheese” to that family down the street when the mother got sick. 

You must always take care to guard your heart during moments of charity and service. Jesus mentions this in the Sermon the Mount:

But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.–Matthew 6:3-4

The longer I am a member of a church and the more involved I become in its fellowship and leadership, the more susceptible I am to feeling more like a “plank owner” than another sinner with a plank in his eye (Matthew 7:3). Solomon illustrates the results of this in Proverbs 11:

2 When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.–Proverbs 11:2

The Hebrew here, זָ֭דוֹן (zadon), is once again a picture of inflated sense of self, in excess if right reason. As Waltke reveals, pride:

…denotes psychological state of  an exaggerated opinion of oneself that does not correspond to social reality.–Bruce Waltke

This leads to ultimately to shame, for the foolish:

invite pride to come as their guest, but, like an inseparable twin, disgrace comes along with her as an uninvited guest.–Bruce Waltke

Tim Keller spots this temptation to pride, even in doing good. In an ironic twist, the pride you can have in helping others can lead to a hardness in your heart. Ultimately, pride will undermine your very compassion for others:

Pride makes sympathy nearly impossible.–Timothy Keller, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life”

The opposite of the haughty eyes of the proud are the sympathetic eyes of your savior, Jesus Christ. All throughout His life and ministry, the eyes of Jesus looked upon this world filled with the corrosive effects of sin. The broken people, the shadow of death, the continual raging conflict all around him–and even among his own disciples. Jesus looked upon all of this and had compassion. At times He wept.

This is the Jesus who saw the man born blind, when all others were simply walking past.  (John 9:1-7). This is the Jesus who saw the crowds of anxious followers and was moved with compassion and pity (Matthew 9:36). This is the Jesus who stood and wept like a child before the tomb of His dead friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). This is the Jesus who, even now sees you, and intercedes on your behalf to the Father (Hebrews 7:25).

When you are filled with pride, you will not see these things. The pain of others will be invisible to you, and they will likewise disappear from your heart and mind. It is easy to want to avoid the suffering of those around you. In some cases it may feel that the icky-ness of their failure may somehow stain you–or worse, that they somehow deserve their lot in life. 

Instead, seek to take on the eyes of Jesus, to seek to see life as He sees it, to see others as He sees them. In the words of Paul to the church in Phillipi:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.–Philippians 2:3-4

Christian artist Brandon Heath has an insightful song about having the eyes of Christ:


Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

When you seek to see the world through Jesus’s eyes, then you see the world for what it truly is. You will see people as they truly are. Then, like Amy Carmichael, you can know Calvary Love:

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about the one who has disappointed me; if I say “Just what I expected,” if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.-Amy Carmichael, “If” 

 

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The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

 

 

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