Matthew 11 | Pride – The Curse of Godless Intellectualism

by | Jan 18, 2020

 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven
and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise
and learned, and revealed them to little children.

Matthew 11:25

If we are honest with ourselves, each of us struggles in some way with pride. Pride comes in many different forms, far too many to even summarize in a short blog post. However, in this passage, Jesus chose to call out a specific group of people about their pride: The Intellectuals.

Intellectualism is a mindset that believes all things must be examined with rationality and logic as opposed to allowing anything else such as inspiration or emotion. It believes the engagement in ‘high-level thinking’ is the ultimate goal of human existence. That intelligence and rational thought will bring answers to all questions. Intellectualism has a close companion in rationalism (looking to the world within oneself as the source of knowledge) and the almost inevitable result, when not submitted to God, is pride. When someone begins to place their intellect on a high pedestal in their life something else has to come off of the pedestal, and that usually is faith, humility, being teachable and a reliance on God versus reliance on self.

Jesus constantly spoke against the intellectuals of the day; the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the ones who lorded over the people and literally were unchallenged due to their high intellects and knowledge. The average Jew would cower before the superior knowledge or a Pharisee. Jesus detested this abuse and here makes this statement about how He, the Christ, was revealed to ‘little children.’  He obviously wasn’t literally talking about little children (although they were most definitely included in the group to whom Christ revealed Himself) but people who had the attitude and humility of little children. A little child knows little and is constantly being taught by those older and wiser. They typically have no barriers to stop them from having complete trust in those teaching them. Christ is speaking about those who were not burdened by intellectualism.

Now, lest I be misunderstood, let me state I’m neither putting all intellectuals into a box nor am I saying being ‘wicked smart’ is a sin. It most certainly isn’t. Someone who is gifted in this way yet submitted to the Lord is a powerful tool for the Lord to use. Just look at the Apostle Paul! Today there are many very intelligent people who are humble followers of Jesus Christ (although I personally humbly follow my Lord I certainly don’t have to deal with a powerful intellect…lol). I cannot help but think of the apologist Ravi Zacharias. Here is a highly intelligent man who defends the Gospel against all kinds of attacks and has a huge intellect. However, even though I have heard him speak personally and have watched many videos online of him speaking in various venues, he has always conveyed the aura of a submitted servant to Jesus. Never have I seen him treat even the harshest or rudest of individuals who at times attack him in these venues in a discourteous or ungracious way. How can he be humble with such a great intellect? I believe it is because he firmly understands that his intellect cannot save him and is only profitable if it is turned and submitted to God for His purposes.

I have seen people who consider themselves intellectuals, fight against God and truth with their own reason and logic and have witnessed the subsequent destruction it causes in their lives. However, I have also watched as God breaks through all of that and redeems them, turning them into sold out, gospel spreading disciples of Jesus. I want to encourage all of us, and especially those who fall into the intellectual category to continue to humble ourselves before the Lord and realize our knowledge and wisdom will never save us. Only true repentance and reliance on Jesus will do that.