Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 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: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming 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, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
— The Apostle Paul to the Philippians, Philippians 2:1-11

If you didn’t make it to this past Saturday’s Fireside Church, we read Philippians 2 together and discussed humility and pride.

Pride

First off, let’s talk a little about pride. No one likes a cocky person or someone who won’t admit they are wrong. Maybe closer to the heart of pride is that it doesn’t care about other people, just about what others think.

Think about some different ways pride is manifested:

  • Trying to build yourself up
  • Focusing on convincing others that you are more than who you actually are

Have you thought about how taking on too much and risking failure is an example of prideful behavior?

Or that hiding your weaknesses is pride?

Ever think that when you complain about something, you’re focusing on yourself and demonstrating pride?

I didn’t until our discussion. But, it fits right in with trying to prove that you’re awesome in someone else’s eyes.

A martyr mentality is similar. Your workplace (or family, friend group, insert-your-own-thing-here) is so lucky to have you, right? If you weren’t there, they’d surely fail! You have to do this, and that, and that, because you’re the only one who knows how and everyone is depending on you.

Ever think that when you complain about something, you’re focusing on yourself and demonstrating pride?

There’s another subtle way that pride shows up: being down on yourself. This was another new one for me. When you think that you’re worthless, that someone doesn’t need you, or that you can’t do anything of value, you again are focusing on what others think.

Humility

To contrast pride, let’s dive into two definitions of humility. Humility is:

  1. Being willing to be known for who you are, nothing more and nothing less.
  2. Recognizing that everything you have is because of God and others.

Ponder this: God is humble. His picture of Himself is no more and no less than who He is. Worship is identifying the most worthy and valuable thing. God can’t think of Himself as more than he is, because there is nothing greater, and to think of Himself as less than God would make Him not God.

When we act and think out of pride, we are acting as if we are God. Guess what: we’re not. We may not verbally say it, but it’s behind pride and may be the heart of the problem. Whether it’s building ourselves up or tearing ourselves down, we are focusing on ourselves, not caring for others.

When you focus on your value in Christ, it’s very hard to be prideful. Humility reorients our picture of ourselves to our Creator, both in being willing to be known for who we are and in recognizing the part that God and others play in our lives.

Everyone has gifts and does something with those gifts. Celebrating those differences is part of what it means to be a body. Everyone has a part to play, and part of humility is recognizing where we are weak and where someone else is strong. In either case, showing authentic gratitude is part of the antidote for the poison of pride.

Your Challenge This Week: A Humble Marble

Think of a cat’s eye marble. It is what it is; nothing more, nothing less. Each one is unique. The most beautiful marbles are made by hand; it’s an amazing process of layers of colored and clear glass. It is transparent; you can see inside to the core. A blue marble cannot be a green marble; each has it's own limitations and strength.

Granted, the analogy isn’t perfect: not all marbles are transparent and if you step on it you may hurt your foot. But in many ways God wants us to be like marbles. He wants us to be willing to be transparent and to be known for exactly who we are. He wants us to recognize and acknowledge that what we have is not because of ourselves. Jesus was like a marble in that way, and God wants to make us more like Jesus.

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