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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Standing on the Backs of Others Won't Make You Taller

I watch two vehicles scrape each other Tuesday. The first, a SUV, was changing lanes.  It was in a right turn only lane and needed to get in the middle lane to go straight. The driver used a signal and began the lane change. The second, a sedan, rushed up to fill the lane so as to force the SUV back into the right lane. The SUV continued to make the lane change. The sedan stayed in the lane and continued to push forward. Neither car was going more than 20-30 mph. The SUV scraped the front right fender of the sedan with his back left fender. The sedan began honking her horn ferociously. The SUV, realizing what had just happened, pulled over to the right. The sedan followed. The whole incident could have been avoided.

I believe the driver of the SUV could not see the sedan. The driver started the lane change when no one was in the desired lane. The driver of the sedan wanted to keep the SUV from making the lane change and get behind her rather than in front of her. She evidently thought she could force the SUV back and did not consider the possibility that she was in the SUV's blind spot. She could see and forged ahead until the two vehicles scraped together.

Now, why did this happen? I suppose the SUV driver was at fault because he made a lane change into a vehicle in that lane. He did not start the lane change with someone in that lane. However, I believe the driver of the sedan owns a significant portion of the blame. She saw the situation and sought to exercise her power of being in the lane. She caused this mishap. (I can't call something so obviously avoidable and so purposely executed an accident.)

What would cause her to act this way? I really don't know but I wonder if it had something to do with pride. Could pride have said, "This is my lane and I am not going to let someone else get ahead of me in it?" Pride just doesn't want the seat of humility. It doesn't want to get behind anyone.

Pride is not always a bad thing. It is good to be proud of your children, your spouse, your parents and your country. You can even be proud of your own accomplishments. Pride becomes bad when it takes a life of its own. The pride that won't apologize, won't give mercy, won't acknowledge the accomplishment of others, won't bow to the needs of others is the pride that the Bible loathes.

Destructive pride respects no profession, no gender, no ethnicity, no socio-economic group nor any physical characteristic. The preacher can be as proud as the pro athlete; the black woman as proud as the white woman, the poor as much as the rich and the short man as much as the tall man. No one is immune. Everyone can easily catch the disease. Even the most humble person can take undue pride in his humility. The rich can take undue pride in his generosity.

Pride is like a pandemic disease which everyone has but can only diagnosed by others. It is always easy to identify the pride in others. However, we hardly ever recognize that our ability to point at others is made so keen by having the same problem. The reason I see the pride in someone who talks so much about his own accomplishments is that I do the same thing and do not recognize it in myself any more than the windbag who is doing so in front of me.

How many of us have thought more of a person because of his pride? We think we have to tell people how great we are so they will believe that we are great. Yet, most of us think less of the person who has filled our time with their self adulation. We make mental notes to end these conversations more quickly in the future. Our choices of seating will certainly be more selective in the future. (I wonder how many people have made these same mental notes about me.) In reality, we are brought low by our pride rather than lifted higher.

Can the reverse be said of humility? Will our allowing others into our lanes, choosing the seat of humility, speaking of the greatness of others bring us to honor? Of course, we know that it does. Who is more popular than the person who takes a genuine interest in others over his own interests? Who is more loved that the one who listens? Are we so afraid of going unnoticed that we can't take the place of humility? Must we force ourselves on others to gain their praise?

Absolutely not! Jesus said the greatest person is the one who serves others. Wisdom from this world says that is absurd. The world seeks to be served. That is why there are so many infomercials which promise wealth and power over others. Pride is appealing but it never delivers the praise it promises.

I kept driving after I saw these cars scrape. I turned and continue on my journey. A vehicle in front and to the left of me indicated it wanted to get in my lane. I slowed down to give it plenty of room. The driver changed lanes and zipped ahead. Maybe no one other than me noticed.

Proverbs 29:23 (ESV)
23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.


Anonymous said...

Why would the pride of one brings him low? Scripture said that God opposes the proud - James 4:6. It is not God may oppose you or God will oppose you; it is God opposes you, meaning the moment you are proud, God is opposing you. So, why would the pride of one brings him low; it is because God is at work against the proud.

On the other hand, God gives grace to the humble - also James 4:6. Whatever is the grace for? James 4:10 says, "humble yourselves in the sight of The Lord, and he shall lift you up". God gives grace to the humble, to lift them up.

When we lift ourselves up, be careful, pride may be coming in, and we may face the hand of God bringing us low. On the other hand, when we choose to be humble, God may elevate us. Below is Jesus' words:

Luke 14:7-11 -
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

And the words of the Author of the Book of Romans:

Rom 12:3 -
God’s grace has been given to me. So here is what I say to every one of you. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should. Be reasonable when you think about yourself. Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you.

Want to insist on your rights? Trouble with the "why must I?" Here are the words of Jesus:

Matt 53:43-48 -
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The ways of God are not the ways of the world. And Gal 5:17 says, "For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want."

Let us be led by the Spirit, and live according to the ways of God. We have to, and there is no room for pride. When is one prideful? When he has thought more highly of himself than he should - from Rom 12:3.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

"Pride is like a pandemic disease which everyone has but can only [be] diagnosed by others."

Ouch, that hurts! True, though.

I might steal that one, if that's OK!