Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pride and Humility

Today’s Reading
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
~ Mark 10:35-45

Do you wonder where James and John got the audacity to ask Jesus to place them at his right and left hand in his glorious rule!? It appears that the human nature of prideful, self-interest, so prevalent in our 21st century existence, was alive and well even during the time of Jesus’ earthly life 2000 years ago. It is amazing to think that the apostles, who walked with Jesus and witnessed his Godly character of servitude, were still driven to attain positions of authority over others, and to achieve prideful recognition instead of humbly serving one another.

In our society, conceit and pride is too often synonymous with success. Earthly achievements often lead to an inflated self-view. This focus on “self” frequently is followed by destruction – the list is many: Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, former presidential candidate, John Edwards, and the list goes on. This affliction of our human nature does not touch only the rich and powerful, but resides in us all. It is a trap that we as Christians, can be lured into, particularly with today’s societal pressures and self-centered culture. I have seen the affliction in myself many times over the years, particularly in my work life. I have caught myself looking down at a co-worker or business acquaintance, making a judgment based on MY perception of their value or ability in certain situations.

In his book Mere Christianity, author C.S. Lewis states that the greatest sin of all is pride (or self-conceit), and its opposite virtue in Christian morals is humility. The important point to remember is that pride exists in all of us, and we must constantly strive to be humble, serve our fellow man, and do everything for the glory of God. I have found that I am most humbled when I look at my existence here in the San Ramon Valley. It is very humbling to have the realization that purely by the grace of God (and nothing of my own doing), that I was born in a country where wealth and opportunity abound, instead of one of many countries where severe human oppression or poverty rule.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

1. Have you been in a situation where you have been humbled by a leader or mentor? What did you learn through that experience?

2. Today, do you think you are looking up with humility or down with pride?

Jamie Williamson spent his childhood and college years in central Illinois, and has now lived in San Ramon for roughly 16 years. I have been married to my wonderful wife Susie for 27 years and have three children, Emma (22), Alex (20), and Annie (19). I have been a member of CCPC for more than 10 years, and my favorite hobbies are golf, reading, travel, and watching the Giants win.

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