When Jesus spoke to the church located at Sardis, they were making the same mistake spiritually that their descendants had made militarily centuries before. They had a reputation and they were arrogantly living off of that. Because of their overconfidence, they had left some things unfinished that needed to be done—but they didn’t care. They had started believing their own publicity and thought themselves invincible.
You see this on a fairly regular basis. It’s the businessman who outsells everyone in January so he or she clears a spot on their shelf (at least mentally), for the salesperson of the year award. It’s the football team that wins its first couple of games and then assumes they’re going to the Super Bowl. It’s the prosperous farmer who thinks he has it made for many years to come (Luke 12:19ff). It’s the follower of Jesus who is convinced they can put their soul on cruise control rather than walk humbly with the Lord.
What makes people think this way?
For some, it’s a lack of life experience that makes them unaware of the multiplicity of factors (many beyond their control), involved in any success. Others who have lived long enough to know better, nonetheless never look past themselves when blessed with success. In both instances, favorable outcomes are attributed to personal goodness rather than God’s blessing. At some level, they’re convinced that they’re somehow different (better) than others (Luke 18:10), and success is an entitlement due them. The result is an attitude that is disrespectful of others and of life itself. And, they set themselves up for quite a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
But no one goes to bed humble and wakes up arrogant! We must recognize the subtlety by which this all occurs. Arrogance incrementally worms its way into our life when we stop giving due diligence to our core identity and fall under the spell of thinking we’re something we’re not. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you,” (Romans 12:3).
In the words of Jesus, we need to wake up. We need to see the cracks and crevices in our lives and with God’s help, do something about them. We’ll still have our blind spot —but we won’t be blind to it!