Wearing a crown doesn’t make you better than the crownless

Do you know people who won’t take you seriously because you’re not important enough? I’ve met of few of those. And, honestly, it used to bother me.

Some people see your job title and decide whether or not you’re worth their time. Other people look at your clothes or the way you talk or the car you drive. We all make judgment calls on people. Let’s face it. We do. But how many of us actually judge whether someone is individually worth our time based on what they look like or based on what station in life they currently happen to be in?

It’s hurtful. Because I’m more than the clothes I’m wearing. I’m more than my job title (or lack thereof). And just because I don’t happen to have trails of letters after my name doesn’t make me less intelligent than someone with a PhD. And it certainly doesn’t give anybody the right to call me less important than someone else.

But more and more I see people rating others, their intellect or their worth, based on external factors. And the only explanation I can come up with for it is that we’re falling deeper and deeper into our own pride. But pride has never been the source of success or peace. It’s actually the opposite.

arroganceToday’s verse is Proverbs 3:34.

The Lord mocks the mockers
    but is gracious to the humble.

This is one of those verses that shoes up all over the Bible. I know this same verse is quoted in both James and I Peter. And if there’s one simple thing to know about the Bible, it’s this: If God repeats Himself, you really want to pay attention.

Other versions of this little Proverb say that “God opposes the proud.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the side against God. Just saying. I don’t think that sounds like a very secure future.

I know how this life ends. I don’t want to be on the side that God opposes.

The solution is simple. Stop relying on your pride. Don’t be proud.

I said it was simple. Not easy. Because pride is really the root of all our sin. We want to do things our way, not God’s. We want to live our own way, not the way God says is right. And we don’t care what He says. At least, we don’t care until we have to face the consequences of our choices. Then we beg forgiveness and grace, and because God is gracious, He forgives. But once life straightens out again, how many of us go back to making the same stupid choices all over again?

No one person is more important to God than another. God doesn’t play favorites. He never has. He loves us all equally, regardless of history or family or choices. There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more. Likewise, there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less.

So why do we get it in our heads that some Christians are better loved than others? That’s our pride talking. Because pride makes us think we can be sufficient. Pride tricks us into believing that God judges on the curve, and He doesn’t.

Maybe you’ve worked hard to achieve your status, and that’s great and wonderful. But please don’t convince yourself that you are solely responsible for it. You’re not. Favor comes from God. Opportunity comes from God. And you’re where you are because God gave you talent and drive and health. Now, it’s up to you to recognize it. Many people don’t, but it doesn’t change the facts.

So the next time you’re tempted to think that super annoying person you’re talking to isn’t worth your time, take a moment and really ask yourself why you believe that. Are you making that call because you don’t like the way they dress? Do you feel that way because they are on a lower pay grade than you?

Granted, if the person you want to avoid is a fool, that’s a different story entirely, and there are biblical definitions for those kinds of people. And you should absolutely run away from those sorts of people. But not everybody is a fool (thank God). More likely, we just let our insecurities get the best of us, and we convince ourselves that we’re superior for some reason that doesn’t really matter.

Just give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to a conclusion about someone just because they are different from you or work in a different industry. After all, you may king of your own little world right now, but that doesn’t mean someday you won’t lose your crown. And then you’ll wish for someone to treat you like an equal.

Don’t wait until then to learn the lesson.

God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. So be humble. And maybe it’s a lesson you won’t have to learn the hard way.

Ratty old cardinal ornament on my old tree at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The cardinal is a lie

I get really put out at people sometimes. Maybe I’m impatient. Maybe I expect too much. I don’t know, but few things can irritate me more than people. And it doesn’t have to be any particular people; just people. There are bad driver people. There are selfish people. There are loud people and rude people and church people and the list can go on and on and on, and they all can irritate the fire out of me. But I get the most angry–almost to the point of saying and doing things I would regret–around foolish people.

We all know foolish people. And I’m certainly not saying that I’m the sharpest knife in the drawer. Believe me, I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life, but I have tried my best to never be in the people group the Bible calls fools. I’m not making it up; it’s all over the Bible, characteristics of fools, what they sound like, what they dress like, how they handle stress, how they behave. Read Proverbs, and you’ll find the majority of verses about being a fool, like today’s verse.

Ratty old cardinal ornament on my old tree at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Ratty old cardinal ornament on my old tree at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 18:2.

Fools have no interest in understanding;
they only want to air their own opinions.

What if I told you I chose the photo for this post because it’s a real cardinal in a real pine tree? Well, you’d be completely within your rights to correct me. One, it’s a fake cardinal, a Christmas tree ornament. Two, it’s a fake pine tree. How did you come to that conclusion? You thought about it. Good grief, you looked at it. The paint is coming off the bird’s beak, it’s missing a leg, its feathers are falling off, the tree has lights in it, and the pine needles look like they’re made of fabric. Because they are.

But what if I’ve convinced myself it’s real? What if I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say? What if I only care about what I think the photo means?

See what I’m saying? A fool rejects truth and substitutes their own reality in its place, whether it’s true in any sense or not. And they don’t really care how it hurts them or the people around them.

That’s a silly example but have you ever tried to argue with a person like that? Have you ever tried to reason with a person like that? It’s exhausting. They refuse to listen, and you end the argument feeling bluer and more disheartened than you were when you started.

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about this before, and I want to make sure that I communicate this as kindly as possible. I can’t see people’s hearts. I don’t know their motivation. That is between them and God, and I have no right to make a judgment call about it. But I can make my own judgment about someone’s behavior, and I can change how I react to them.

Christmas is a time when all sorts of people who don’t ever see each other spend time together. Extended amounts of time. In small cramped rooms. The inevitable conflict will always erupt, sometimes contained, sometimes not. Welcome to family holidays, right?

I guess this is weighing on me today because I always seem to encounter foolish people when I really need to be focusing on accomplishing something. And I spend so much time trying to straighten them out or worrying about what I’ve said to them or that I did something wrong that I lose the chance to do something worthwhile. And please don’t ever think I’m condoning abandoning people. God doesn’t do that; so we shouldn’t either.

But some people–and you know exactly the kind I’m talking about–don’t want to be helped. They don’t want to change. They want you to be as disruptive and chaotic as they are, and if they can bring you down to where they are, they’ll feel better about themselves.

Don’t let them. You have a choice.

The truth about foolish people is that there’s nothing you can do for them. A true fool is beyond your help. Curing a true fool of his or her foolishness takes Divine Intervention. Love them, yes. Pray for them, yes. But don’t try to fix them. You can’t fix yourself.

Do what you need to do. Speak truth in love. Don’t let them drag you into their conflicts. Keep pressing forward, and keep paying attention. Otherwise someday, when someone tells you a fake cardinal in a fake tree is real, you’ll go along with it. Then who’s the fool?