In the late 1990’s television show Ally McBeal, Ms. McBeal’s assistant Elaine has a recurring case of inflatable head, not a physical head swelling, but a verbal puffing up of her ego. Feeling nostalgic the other night, I watched a few episodes on Netflix, and immediately felt self-conscious and even a little convicted. I know at times, when I feel I’m not getting recognition, I have resorted to puffing myself up to feel better, to feel accomplished. In the show, the writers even have Elaine’s head physically growing as she brags over her achievements small and large. Am I just as irritating when I brag? More importantly, why do I find recognition and praise so important to my self-worth?
Pretty much from birth my parents instilled in me a sense of right and wrong, a strong set of morals, especially in regards to keeping my word, integrity, and dependability. If I say I am going to do something, it is very rare that I will not come through. It amazes me that so many people are willing to break their promises. Because of these morals, I have clung to the rules in many areas of my life. I don’t like it when my coworkers don’t do what they supposed to do or when someone at the grocery store cuts in line. In many ways I am like the Jews of Romans 3 who believe that everyone should follow the law of Moses. They believed that since there is this set of rules for Jews, that everyone should follow those same laws in order to be as good as them.
God corrects this thinking, however, in Romans by recalling earlier scripture in verses 10-18 if Romans 3. Paul clarifies in the verses that follow, saying, “…so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” It’s almost like he’s speaking directly to me and fictitious character Elaine. Paul, who by the way, I think also liked to brag, is saying something to the effect of, “By judging others you are only putting that same judgment on yourself.”
When we puff ourselves up, when we brag, we are in turn, subconsciously, putting down others. When we list all our accomplishments without acknowledging others, we are in turn downgrading the accomplishments of others. The alternative is to humble ourselves before God, thank Him for giving us the gifts he has given us to achieve the things we have achieved, and we will start to see appreciation for others flow out of that.
Today’s sermon was “Does my service within the church really matter?” Some people are feeling like it doesn’t, while others might be feeling like their service is the only one that matters. When we look at the bigger picture, it all matters. I work in a hospital five days a week. A hospital operates like a machine. If the doctor is not there, then the clinic could come to stand still, but in the same way, the housekeeper must be there to stock the toilet paper and empty the trash. Each person has an important role in keeping the whole operation running.
Let’s start our week humble to give God the glory, to appreciate each other, and to put our self-worth in God’s hands and not in the mouths of men. Praise God for the many people He uses in our lives, for every one contributed to where we are today.