Forgive Us Our Scorn

Why it takes humility to receive God's grace.

Ben White

As you read through the Bible you can't miss that God wants his creation to love one another. This axiom is simple, and it's woven into the DNA of the Scriptures such that we can't read more than a few pages without encountering the concept.

Whether this concept is overt as in the Ten Commandments—six of which deal explicitly with how humans should treat one anotherand Jesus's own proclamation that the second greatest command is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, or whether the standard is less obvious such as Jesus's encounter with the woman at the well, the pages of the Bible are peppered with the Golden Rule. In fact, 1 John teaches that, "By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother" (3:10). Pretty strong words!

Proverbs is no exception. In chapter 3 we see Solomon exhorting his readers to be good neighbors with many warnings to the person who practices wickedness towards one another. But then towards the end of the chapter we read an interesting warning, "Toward the scorners [the LORD] is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor" (3:34).

I'd never given much though to the word "scorn" before, but in reading this verse I was compelled to look up its meaning. Merriam-Webster defines scorn in these blunt terms: "Open dislike and disrespect or mockery often mixed with indignation."[1]

Talk about a smorgasbord of negativity. Ever know a scorner? Someone who has no problem mocking or disrespecting others in public? I'm sure you have. It seems as if scorners have only increased with the advent of and 24-hour cable news networks with airtime to fill. What do all scorners have in common?

Unrestrained pride.

Pride tells us we're better than others. It causes dislike and disrespect and mockery. In contrast God tells us he created every human being in his image, and therefore we all have essential worth. So to scorn another is, in a sense, to scorn God.

And what happens as a result? Solomon says God will be scornful of us.

You may have heard verses imploring, suggesting, or requiring fear of God. If you didn't before, you should fear God after reading this. I can't think of many things worse than being on the receiving end of God's scorn.

And yet, I'm just as guilty as that jerk you conjured up in your mind a few moments ago, of thinking of myself more highly than I ought. And as a result of my lack of humility I hold in contempt other people who don't measure up to my biased and rigged standards.

Maybe you've done the same.

If so, welcome to the club. We're a popular group.

Therefore I pray that we would all fear God enough that we would respect his creation, those who bear his image.

Father, forgive me, for I have scorned.
Forgive us our scorn, as we forgive our scorners.

If there's one thing God seems to despise, it's pride. Satan used it to tempt Eve, Jesus railed against the Pharisees for their haughtiness, and King Saul found himself dethroned for want of humility.

Esteemed Irishman C. S. Lewis went so far as to say that pride is at the very core of all sin. He wrote, "The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."[2]

Quite a claim, isn't it?

But whether or not you buy Lewis's claim, it's clear that Solomon warns against the same. Do you want God's favor? Don't be a scorner and embrace humility. This advice from Solomon is pregnant with theology.

What is grace? Unmerited favor.
How do we receive it then? By placing our faith in Jesus. Sola fide.

The only way to express genuine faith starts from a posture of humility, because believing on Christ means admitting we can't save ourselves; we need a savior. Therefore Solomon's words carry a deeper meaning in a post-resurrection world: "To the humble he gives favor."

May we turn away from pride, place our faith in Christ, and have enough fear of God to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

By the way, if you've ever struggled with consistency in your prayer life or just want to enhance your quiet time, you might be interested in my free guide called, How to Establish a Habit of Daily Quiet Time with God. You'll learn the steps I took to build a strong habit in my life that has lasted well over a decade. When once I struggled with consistency, now my time with God is automatic. This guide will help you do the same.

If you're interested, you can get your own copy for free. Just enter your email address below, and I'll send it your way:

1. Merriam-Webster, s.v. "scorn," accessed October 16, 2021,
2. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1977), 109.

No comments:

Post a Comment