Winston Churchill, the man who served England through the Second World War, had nothing but scorn for the man who was Prime Minister before him, Clement Attlee. Attlee saw Germany as a force that could not be resisted and tried to buy peace by appeasing Hitler. Once when US President Truman defended Attlee, saying “But surely, Mr. Churchill, you admit that Mr. Attlee is a humble man?” Churchill’s reply is famous: “He is a humble man, but then he has much to be humble about!” Churchill was a man with great leadership skills, a speaker of amazing ability, who’s ego was so large that he was often intolerably arrogant toward others.
Pride is a sin as old as Eden, a subtle thing that creeps into our mind and convinces us that we must defend ourselves, our reputation, our honor. As we lose touch with reality, we may begin to boast, feeling ourselves better than others, even believing that we are somehow above the rules that govern ordinary mortals. There is a curious twist to pride in some that causes them to turn inward, unwilling to attempt any new or difficult task because they are too proud to risk failure!
Christians are called to humility. Let’s not confuse humility with self-deprecation. Humble people do not think much about themselves because they are pre-occupied with God and others. They are ‘self-forgetful’ not self-hating. A humble person understands who he is, is quite capable of standing up to bullies, can take the lead as necessary without making life about himself. I love this line from Jon Bloom – “Humble people prefer windows to mirrors!” Isn’t that great? The full context of that line is here – “Not thinking much of themselves means that humble people prefer windows to mirrors. Desiring to see the glory of God in everything frees them from needing to see how everything else reflects on them.”
Paul, in writing to the Corinthians who had been deceived by boastful preachers who really had no substance, nothing self-interest in their message, reminds them that he is a confident, but because of God’s gifts and calling, not because of his own abilities. “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-5, NIV) “We don’t need to brag or boast,” he says, “because the proof of our message and work is seen in changed lives.”
Pride alienates us from others, makes us touchy and irritable, and makes genuine service impossible. We all slip into it from time to time. And, in Christ, we can all escape the grasp of pride, discovering the joy of knowing that ‘our competence comes from God.’ Feeling disrespected today? Kneel and give those feelings to Him. Had the credit for your accomplishments stolen by someone else? Give it the Lord who knows the end from the beginning, Who never forgets.
Make your prayer to be like Jesus. The word from the Word today points us in the right direction. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:5-9, NIV)
Make me more like You, Jesus,
Make me more like You!