Sunday, August 21, 2022
For many of us, the last few weeks we have been reestablishing our school time routines. The lackadaisical jazz of summer has transitioned into the tight structure of a concert march. Alarms begin to sound once more and the the score begins. Many times, my day begins with a morning run. I pride myself in the ability to time this run in such a way that I squeeze in all my other to-dos before the school day (like shower, pack, dress, eat breakfast) and be in the school building with a minute to spare. Everything was again like clockwork – run, shower, pack, breakfast – until I had an important realization as I crossed the threshold of the school door and met the flow of air streaming from the vent: I had not stopped sweating since my run. My body still thought it was summer. My shirt was now mostly covered in sweat, and it didn’t show signs of slowing. I walked down the hallway, was questioned multiple times about the appearance of showering in my shirt, but I was committed to going about my day with a sweat-filled shirt and a pride-filled attitude. Fortunately, through the insistence of an administrator, I took up the offer of a sweat-free replacement. I finally humbled myself, and let my pride go.
Humility comes easier when you are sweating through your shirt with nothing else to wear, but it is more difficult to be humble when you’re on top. You’re in charge. You’re the boss. You’re the expert. You’re the best. When you have a history of achieving or exceeding large and meaningful goals. We beam with pride because we feel we “are” or “have” something. When our ego wins, we make a case for why we are better than others. We expect God to acknowledge us more, and when he doesn’t, oftentimes, we deny Him completely, becoming our own god, roleplaying as the savior, the judge, and the ultimate source of “being” in our own life. Pride becomes our sweat-filled shirt – it’s not a good look.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit [vainglory]. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5
If there was anyone to ever walk upon this earth with pride, it should have been Jesus Christ. He is the closest to God a human will ever get, yet “being in the form of God, he didn’t see equality with God as something to be grasped.” (Philippians 2:6) Here is the deepest of theologies about the nature and relationship of Jesus Christ to his Father. Jesus Christ serves God Almighty alone, and we should do the same (see: the greatest commandment, Matt 22:37,38) Jesus didn’t care he was viewed as an amatuer by many of the Pharisees. Who cares? He didn’t identify himself in the status in the company he kept. Not on his radar All he could lay his eyes upon was in his grasp. (Matt 4:8,9) He flatly refused. He had a critical role to play for our Heavenly Father. He chose humility, a life of service, knowing that His Father exalts those who humble themselves to His will, and also humbles those who choose to lift themselves higher than others (Luke 14:11; Phil 2:9-11)
Likewise, we are called and mandated to be humble. Less of me and less of you until only Jesus remains. How do we do this? In all our ways acknowledge Him (Prov 3:6), but are ready to give up time, effort, energy (life) for someone else (Matt 20:28) so they may know the Kingdom of God. We can still be ambitious, but it must be driven by God, not simply a feather in the cap or degree on the wall. We can look for glory, but it is bestowed upon our heavenly Father, not to us. We must be on our knees, known more for the top of our head than the self-satisfaction of our face. We must minister to those who can give us no status or possessions in return, only a life given over to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are to walk in humility, no longer run away with our pride.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12,13
Questions for Reflection
- When does your pride and ego prevent you from being Christ-like?
- Would you rather humble yourself before God or be humbled by God?
- How can you fix prideful attitudes?