Have you ever been surprised at what another Christian didn't know or couldn't do? Your meekness may be showing—or not.
Jesus said, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank that is in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:3). He said that in the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with the Beatitudes. Jesus there commends qualities of spirit that are surprising. We all live, for instance, as if being rich in spirit is blessed. Jesus said that's backwards. We act as though joy erases all mourning; Jesus, like James, says, "Wrong!" We live as though the best thing is to be on the Christian maturity path, where we can assess our progress and others' and measure our blessing. Jesus said instead that meekness was blessed. We live as though arriving at Christian maturity is blessed. Jesus instead blessed those who hunger and thirst for it.
Meekness leaves you thinking you deserve nothing and are entitled to nothing. Its opposite is pride, where you think you do deserve something.
Lucifer pioneered pride. Think about the revelation in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28: He assumed that his created qualities entitled him to replace God. He considered his existence and characteristics to be his property to keep on an unchanging basis, even as he rebelled against his Maker. He was sorely mistaken. His punishment consisted of God replacing Lucifer's good characteristics with bad ones, and replacing his position upon the fiery stones into an eternal quality of fire within.
That pride infects Christian snobs. They measure the progress of other Christians. Do you respond as graciously to your most troublesome member as you do to your pastor? To whom do you give the benefit of the doubt—and from whom do you withhold it? Are you ahead of some, and behind others? These self-diagnostic questions may help protect you from Lucifer's pride, from argument with Jesus' Beatitudes.
If anyone could have been a Christian snob, it would have been the apostle Paul! All his sufferings listed in 2 Corinthians 1, 4 and 11—wouldn't you feel entitled, even just a little bit? Well, don't you already feel entitled, even with your meager sufferings? All his revelation described in 2 Corinthians 12—wouldn't you feel you were farther along than just about any other Christian? But he explains a different and better way that these events help him: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest upon me" (2 Cor. 12:9).
For all his elevated experiences, Paul never wrote of another person as less than he was—only of his being less than others, the chief of sinners. Were there truths he wanted others to know? Certainly, and it helps explain his motivation for persistence. Yet Paul had no pretense that he had innate standing or could reach into the hearts of others and make them know, make them live a certain way, make them follow his example.
He prayed exemplary prayers such as Ephesians 3:16, where he shows his attitude: "That [God] would give you." This is the same attitude Luke expressed in Acts 13:48, "all who were ordained to eternal life believed." There's no pride that we did it, no merit that our sacrifice was the key to the kingdom, no entitlement that we are more deserving because of our spiritual prowess.
There is only meekness: God, be merciful to me, the sinner! (Luke 18:13).
Paul Renfroe is a life insurance agent and entrepreneur, completing his doctoral work through the college affiliated with Christian International in Santa Rosa Beach, founded by bishop Bill Hamon.
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