We are continuing a series of how people perceive the church and using Proverbs 6:16-19 (7 Deadly Sins) as a framework for our discussion.
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
The first phrase we will consider is “haughty eyes.” What does that even mean? The Hebrew word is rum (pronounced like “room”) and is used extensively in the Old Testament (used over 190 times!) and has a wide variety of meaning. The word basically is used to denote literal height (something is high) and can be used metaphorically to exalt or negatively to be proud (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 2132). In our context it is used with the noun “eyes” so it is referring to something negative as in looking down on someone with a sense of arrogance and pride. What the proverb writer is saying is that the Lord hates those who think they are better than people by looking down on them.
A New Testament example of this is the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee looked down on the tax collector because he thought he was better than him. “God I thank you that I am not like one of them.” That is haughty eyes. Dan Kimball in his book The Like Jesus but Not the Church shares Maya’s story:
Before my friend became a Christian, you could talk to him. It was normal. He became a Christian after he met a girl, and then through her got converted. But after his conversion, you couldn’t talk to him anymore. Every conversation was about condemning something about my lifestyle. All he did was keep telling me things I was doing wrong. I shouldn’t be smoking. I shouldn’t be drinking. He didn’t like the way I dressed or the music I listened to. I was mad at the church for turning him into this kind of very negative person. (p. 98).
Kimball didn’t say it (at least explicitly) but what she is experiencing is someone who has haughty eyes. When we see someone who has tattoos, smells like cigarettes and beer and drops an F-bomb in conversation what is our typical response? “This person is hopelessly lost!” Our response should be one of compassion, mercy and tender care. Instead of placing our judgment on them and their actions we should serve them which is a little like what Jesus would do (see John 13 and Phil. 2:5-11).
Instead of “haughty eyes” I advocate we put on “humble eyes.” Haughty says “I am better than you” while humble says “I am a sinner like you.” Haughty says, “You have to do this to come to church” while humble says, “we will take you as you come so we can learn about Christianity together.” Haughty is a position of status while humility is an act of service.
I wonder if the perception people have on the church looks like we have haughty eyes.
- In what areas in our ministries do we need humility?
- Do you think it is fair what Maya said in Kimball’s book? Why or why not?
- How have you had haughty eyes on people in the last few months?
- What would it look like for a church to really become agents of humility?
- What Scriptures speak to pride and humility?