Scientific knowledge is rooted in facts and evidence. Pride and humility, on the other hand, originate within a person's soul and are the result of one's attitude and perspective.
Scientific knowledge varies greatly from one person to the next. Just as some people build up a large balance in their bank account, others retain a massive amount of scientific knowledge within their mind.
It is natural for man to become proud of his knowledge and accomplishments. Arrogance is a state of mind that occurs whenever you think more highly of yourself than others, and even more highly of yourself than God. Such smugness never ends well. "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)
There are two ways you can respond to an accumulation of personal wealth or an abundance of personal scientific knowledge. You can either be humbled by such a huge surplus, or you can choose to look down on those who possess less wealth or less knowledge.
True success in life depends upon how I view myself in relation to others; and more importantly, how I view myself in relation to God. A successful person is humble before God and man. Successful people recognize how completely lost they would be without God. And therefore, they live with a deep appreciation and profound awareness of the Lord's mercy and grace in their life.
Do you give God thanks for your scientific knowledge, or do you merely pat yourself on the back for having acquired so much information? The way you respond to your scientific knowledge will determine whether you walk in pride or in humility. One approach leads to destruction, while the other results in righteousness.
The apostle Paul summed it up beautifully: "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Cor. 4:7)
Arrogance runs much deeper than mere verbal boasting. It is a haughty and pompous attitude that permeates the soul. This spiritual virus is far more dangerous than most people realize.
Jesus said, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?" (Matt. 16:26) Likewise, what does it profit a man to acquire a vast array of scientific knowledge, yet lose his soul? What if your impressive net worth or your vast storehouse of knowledge hardens your heart toward your Creator? What if all that wealth and all those scientific facts make you arrogant, and therefore aloof to what God says you need in order to become successful in this life and in the world to come?
When you reach the end of your life on earth, will any amount of scientific knowledge or money be of greater value to you than your soul? And if it won't be more valuable then, it isn't more valuable now. So go ahead: Be honest with yourself today about whether your scientific knowledge is producing pride or humility within your heart and mind.
Eternal life in Paradise is a gift, and is only given out one way: through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The forgiveness of sins cannot be purchased by any amount of money or acquired by any amount of scientific knowledge, but simply received with the faith of a child.
This calls for humility and a proper recognition of how much you need your Creator. After all, "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God." (1 Cor. 8:1-3)
As David observed the universe God has created, it produced tremendous humility within his heart: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3,4)
Sir Isaac Newton, who was perhaps the most influential scientist of all time, put it this way in his famed Principia: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and power Being...This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all."
It is quite evident that scientific knowledge can foster pride or humility. It all depends upon what you do with the information God has enabled you to attain. Your response to this knowledge will determine whether God will support your efforts, or oppose them.
James wrote, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:6-10)
Simply admit to God that you are a sinner, and then trust Christ to wash away your sins. You see, it was Jesus who "humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:8) The risen Savior receives all who humbly turn away from sin, and who rely upon the Messiah's sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.
If you take this step of faith today, you will be so glad you did. Here is a prayer that can help you come to Christ in a spirit of humility and confident trust in God's greatness and goodness:
"Lord Jesus, I am not as important as I often make myself out to be. I cannot rightly take the credit for my knowledge or the blessings you have given to me. Simply put, I am lost without you dear Lord. Therefore, I turn to you now Jesus in repentance and faith. Cleanse me of my pride and forgive all my sins. Change my heart O God and make it ever true. Make me humble before you and others. And help me to live in a way that pleases you. I want to follow you Jesus in every area of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and with power to tell others what you have done for me. And I will give you my eternal thanks and praise. Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross to pay for my sins, and for rising again on the third day. Amen."
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.