You are in a room with a conceited person – get them out and your arguments will end, quarreling will end and name-calling will be replaced with respect – such is the matter of the heart and the outcomes in speech.
It might sound odd to cite Alain de Botton as a critic of complacent self-regard, but this is central to his stated purpose. Attending to the religious roots of humanism can prod us out of seeing secular humanism as natural, the default position, and incite us to ponder our need for discipline, structure, community, and so on. At one point he commends the Christian perspective, that we are ‘at heart desperate, fragile, vulnerable, sinful creatures, a good deal less wise than we are knowledgeable, always on the verge of anxiety, tortured by our relationships, terrified of death – and most of all in need of God’. Is this mere posturing at depth, for ultimately he does not affirm the idea of our need of God in a sustained, serious way? Yes and no: it is also a mark of the intelligent humanist’s desire to avoid simplistic ideologising and attempt some honesty about the human condition. The key novelty of the new atheism is its attentiveness to human frailty. – Hamilton Spectator
It is loving purity of heart and graciousness of speech that allow others to be your friend, even those in leadership, especially those who do not know Jesus.
In Luke 18 Jesus tells a wonderful story of the true self and the false self. He told the story, to those who lived in the place of the false self or, in Peterson’s words “to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance” – the Pharisees – who stood in the temple and said “I do this, I do that”. Whereas, Jesus said, it was “the taxman, not the other, who went home made right with God”. It is the taxman, the failing one, the broken one, whose very weakness brings him into the presence of God. Richard Rohr (1999) points out that it is more broken who are more likely to find the place of grace more quickly. The others of us, the good ones, may wrestle back and forth with fulfilling the requirements. “You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts” (Luke 16;15 Peterson). And significantly it is often in acknowledging the hurt and the falseness of our own hearts – our own places of brokenness that we are more likely to find the place of grace.
As long as we keep true to our heart and speak truth – God will make sure the truth is kept safe by disproving the words of liars.
Satan’s argument cannot he brushed aside lightly. How can God just forgive and take people to heaven? Because salvation is more than forgiveness of sin. The old man with a rebellious heart must be changed into a new man with a giving, loving heart. Self-love must he exchanged for selflessness and love for others. Only then will God’s mercy and justice be seen clearly. The gospel is about forgiveness and cleansing.