Wednesday, February 3, 2010

pride, humility and the non-Christian world

I was reading Titus 3 the other day. It was one of those mornings when you don't expect much from your Bible reading and you think, “Oh, yes, one of those concluding chapters in Paul's letters where he rambles on about a message for such-and-such and a gift for so-and-so”.

I dutifully prayed for God to open my eyes to see wonderful things in his word (Ps 119:18), and despite my sinfully low expectations, he did! It's astonishing, always, although it shouldn't be by now.

I've been growing increasingly bitter about my kids' primary school. I've always loved this school—it's warm, welcoming and community-focussed, and the teachers are enthusiastic and energetic—but I'm starting to see the cracks in the veneer.

But as I read the Bible, my attitude shifted—it turned right side up—and I saw things from God's perspective:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:1-5, NIV)
Trace my unforgiving bitterness back to its root and you get pride—pride for being different and pride for not behaving like those mums over there. It's never struck me before, but what God wants from me is “true humility toward all men”—including non-Christians—for my salvation and character are not of my making. “For we ourselves were once” just like this. We are saved and changed only through God's “kindness” and “mercy”.

As I read God's words, my bitterness dropped away and was replaced with gratitude and awe. My pride shifted sideways and was replaced with humility. Judgementalism gave way to love, withdrawal gave way to involvement, and resentment gave way to prayer.

True humility toward all: now there's something to aim for.

images are by Francis Barton and Carlo Nicora at flickr

No comments: