It was one of those moments where I didn't really know what to say or do, so in my awkward nature, I sheepishly laughed, trying to take it in. After about 10 seconds, I knew he was entirely right. And I hate that.
I fear people. If we're honest, we all do to some extent. I don't like speaking up in group settings because I'm afraid my words will be condescended or mocked, that people will think I'm either crazy, stupid, or both. Left to myself and without my mind held captive to Christ, I slip into this me, me, me pit of "what do they think about me?", "are they talking about me?", "how will this affect how they view me?", "do they take me seriously?" It's all about me.
It's this sick cycle of self-centerdness and pride- and sometimes that pride takes the form of self-deprecation. I hate that this is true, but this so often takes place among believers, in the homes, lives, and churches of followers of Christ. Every human has this deep desire within them to be valued, acknowledged, and found worthy. Instead of running to the Lord for that fulfillment, we look to humanity- to the praise and acknowledgement of man. I think about how they think about me, I wander what I can get from something they said, I focus on my feelings in regards to them, etc etc.
C.S. Lewis said once, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus."
What does that really look like? To outdo one another in showing honor? To look to the interests of others, not yourself? To considers others as more important?
- It means there is no fear in man. The way people view you doesn't alter or change you. It shouldn't affect your mood or change how you treat them. Your day isn't ruined because someone doesn't agree with you or belittles something you say. You're so grounded, firm, and confidant in who you are in Lord, that other peoples opinions or feelings toward you doesn't change your outlook on life. Proverbs 31:25 "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come."
- It means we stop thinking about ourselves. Christ came to serve, and not be served. If anyone deserved to be noticed and praised and served, it was Christ...the King of Kings. But He came to us in humble humanity. We are called to live as He lived. So, we stop thinking about ourselves. We stop fearing what people will think about what we said, and we speak up in times when we're called to love, encourage, or share truth. We are people who are led and guided by the Holy Spirit, not ourselves. If we're having a rough day, we don't mope around- instead we look for those who are weary and love them and share the hope of Christ with them. We don't dress to impress or strive to be funny so people like us; we walk confidently in who Christ made us to be and desire to be His light to a lost world, serving and loving others, not seeking to be served and loved.
- It means we count others as more important that ourselves. It's doing a lot less talking and a lot more listening. It's looking at life (time, money, resources) as gifts on loan to us from the Lord, to be used for His Kingdom. So, we don't spend time selfishly. We don't spend money selfishly. If we see a brother or sister in need, we serve them and love them.
This list could go on and on. I say all those things because that's what I'm striving or praying for, because it doesn't come naturally to me. Left to myself, I'm so sinful. I'm a Peter in that when my eyes aren't on the cross, I fail and I fail miserably. Oh, for the grace of God!
The incredible thing about the gospel is that it frees us from us. It frees us to stop thinking about ourselves and think about the great story we have been called into. It frees us from self-centerdness, from pride, from selfishness. It frees us from ourselves and invites us into joy, hope, love, freedom, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, light... When we stand before the throne of God, there is no room for any "me".
Praise God for friends who love me enough to point out my sin.
Praise God that He is patient and loving, caring and forgiving.
Praise God that He won't give us on me- He loves me for me, not for the future me.
Praise God for forgiveness and renewal.
"May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."