Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Courage to Change: Pride and Anger

You stand in the center of the crowd, and suddenly the tone changes, and you look up and see what appears to be spite in the eyes overlooking you. The crowd jeers and you search their faces with bewildered anxiety. You stand there for a moment in the sea of emotion and a strange feeling brews deep inside. What is this offense that cannot be disguised?  Words pour out from your mouth and stern eyes. And then what will later seem like a few harmless words, at the moment causes your pride to tick and to conjurer defense. Before you know if you are holding yourself back from the anger you're feeling, and from fighting back...

Ever wonder why some people offend you much easier than others? I tend to believe that the more a person has been "offended", hurt, or abused in a certain area, or by a certain person, they will be more sensitive in that area or to the words/actions of that person.

And yet there a certain situation or occurrence that causes us to question why we are so protective or easily hurt in a certain area that does not tie to any previous abuse or offense...And that is when we realize that deep down inside it is pride that causes us to stand on our toes and turn our backs in anger. Whether it be 'not wanting to be seen as dumb' or 'not wanting to be proved wrong' or 'not willing to take help'...often times the root is our own 'pride'...and often times in these circumstances it is because we are too caught up in 'our own view of ourselves'. Why are we so concerned with being taken wrong, or being seen as less than we are? Is it truly because we want peace with others, or is it or often times our own desire to be seen as 'perfect'...I've been pondering lately the difference in righteous defense, and selfish defense.
I think as Christians we shouldn't be so adamant about defending ourselves. Yes, that might seem hard. And yes, it does take surrender and humility to do...but truly, 'What would Jesus do'?
Was He so consumed with defending himself? No.

Why don't we act like Christ in the 'little areas of life'? I mean, Christ said that when we are hit in the face, to turn the other cheek as well. As Christians we are not to fight against persecution. And, yet why do we fight back, and why are we so quick to defend ourselves when people say things that aren't totally accurate about us? Or better still, when we get defend ourselves or get offended when someone just teases us...

Pride and Anger run 'hand in hand.' Ever notice that a lot of times 'anger' is the direct fruit of 'pride'? I hadn't really thought about that till recently.
Pride taints words and twists meanings... until what had been meant once as harmless, even friendly, is seen as horrid or offensive. Pride is a ugly thing, not just because it's not appealing, but because it is 'destructive'. It's rather strange how a person can suddenly flip, because of pride. Honestly, pride can be one of the most uncomfortable and violent emotions ever felt. Yet, pride is not just a 'feeling' but a 'state of mind'. Pride is the root of many sins, such as jealousy, rebellion, selfishness...and pride can cause us much regret.
Don't let any one fool you, pride is not a silent thing that can be contained. Pride leads to anger, and we all know anger cannot be hidden long, sooner or later it rages, and can even destroy everything in it's path.

Pride can easily creep into a person's life without them even realizing. The fact is we all have 'expectations', but what if those 'expectations' aren't really  much more than our desire for selfish 'adherence from others'? We all want to be respected, we all don't want to be overlooked, or poked fun at, but it's very easy for our self defense to premature, or even unnecessary. That's when we have to check our pride, and ask ourselves, 'why am I doing what I am doing?'

I think it is so easy for a man's desire also, for what he calls 'justice' to become only a desire for 'control' or 'selfish gain'. Or is it a many times already 'that' from the start? The truth of our motives bare fruit along the way, and throughout the "fight".

What does it mean to be more like Jesus? Does it mean perhaps letting go of our pride and passion for 'self justice'? Jesus wasn't 'recognized' for who He truly way by most, nor was he treated with respect by most.
That makes me think about how I react to petty misunderstandings, and when I feel a finger pointed at me unjustly, and blush at how easily I am effected or ticked off. It makes me marvel at how humble and meek Jesus was. He was truly amazing.

In this would we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer...for 'He has overcome the world'...

As Christians we must set our sights on Jesus and eternity. It is the selfish man, or the man who's eyes are set on earthly fulfillment and gratification who sorrows and angers over his 'lack of respect' from others...There is always a complaint, because man is always failing to show him the "respect" and "understanding" that he deserves. If we always have a mindset of 'expecting the best treatment' we only lead our tempers to explosion.

Christ was not interested in 'proving' himself or making people 'bow' to Him while he was on earth. He served others and sacrificed himself, and his ego. If we are too concerned with our treatment and what other people think about us, we will never serve others or love others freely and boundlessly. The way to put others before ourselves is not only in actions, but in 'expecting little', yet 'giving much'. How much greater is it to serve a person who is 'undeserving and does not recognize your sacrifice at first, nor "puffs up your ego?" This does not mean we should think that "abuse" is 'righteous' in the eyes of God...but when it comes down to not receiving the expected "attention", "affection", or "gratitude" that we 'think' we "deserve" we should 'think again'. How much are we willing to sacrifice? How much is 'too much' to let go of for the cause of godliness and becoming more like Christ?... Sometimes all it is that we need to 'sacrifice', is our own 'pride'.

When we truly consider how we complain and fight for 'our rights' and 'our image' we realize just how selfish and close minded we really are...

This brings to mind the story of Peter and Jesus in John 13:

3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist  5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples  feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus cam to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7 Jesus replied, "You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will."
8. "No," Peter protested, "you will never ever wash my feet!"
Jesus replied, "Unless I wash you, you won't belong to me."
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, "Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!"

....12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because that's what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

I like verse 14 a lot in this passage. Because Jesus tells us to do as He has done. Honestly, Jesus truly humbled himself...He who sat on high came and washed the feet of man. Wow. Amazing.

3. Do 'nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in 'humility' count others 'more significant' than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only yo his 'own interest's, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, thought he was in the  form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself ,by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. - Philippians 2:3-7

In order to change, in order to let down our pride, we need to have a different view of 'ourselves', we need to stop thinking 'so seriously' of ourselves, and realize that we are no better than our neighbor. Pride starts from thinking too highly than we ought of ourselves, or having too high of standards for ourselves and how we're treated by others. How does one let go of pride? Perhaps by following the example of Christ, and realizing that humility is more honorable than pride, and reaps better fruit.

God, please help us to let down our pride, and surrender our egos. Help us to think more like Jesus, and to walk in humility and not selfish passion. God, may we only ever act out of love and in meekness, and not react in pride and unnecessary anger. Thank you for the example of Christ, and thank you for your Spirit which convicts us and can empower us to live godly and holy lives.
We hand over ourselves, and ask you to give us the proper view/prospective of ourselves. May we think of others as better than ourselves, and serve even when we are not appreciated.
Thank you for your love. We believe that humility is rewarded, and pride is punished. We want to be 'yours' and 'a part of you', so Lord just like Peter help us realize that the path you'd have us walk is surrender to You, and not selfishness. And God help us not to be easily offended, and when we feel like we are persecuted; help us to keep our mouths shut as did Christ when he was judged, and care more about Your view of us...for you know us completely as 'we are'... pride and all. ;-)

Next:  Blog post: About the Character of Sherlock Homes: The first blog post of many under the title 'Fiction Characters and What We Can Learn From Them'.

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