Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
I thought it would be fun to look up the definitions of today's words:
- arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities
- rude: offensively impolite or ill-mannered
Raise your hand if you'd like to be described as arrogant and rude? Yeah, me neither! And yet, here we are, often expressing arrogance or rudeness before we've even had time to think about it. Our sinful nature is so quick to exert itself!
I am particularly struck by the definition of arrogant. The arrogant person has a false understanding of their importance or abilities. They are essentially deceived. Wow.
We've all been there, though, right? I mean, we want to show the person in front of us that we are cool, worthy, able, etc. We inflate a resume; we exaggerate a story; we assume our right-ness; we inflate our importance. Having rude paired with arrogance is perfect, because rudeness is a natural outpouring of an arrogant orientation. We think our need to get somewhere is more important than another's so we tail them on the highway or cut them off in traffic. We are sure our story outdoes the one the next guy just told, so we butt in and share ours to show the superiority of our experience. We believe we are contributing more in a relationship, so we justify rude comments or belittling behavior toward our spouse or friend. (Guys, you know it's a serious problem when it even affects our relationships with people we love, not just a stranger in a car who drives too slowly!)
Love calls us to a new alive way of living that is the opposite of arrogant and rude. Here are some antonyms for our two words of the day:
- arrogant: humble, modest, meek, unconceited
- rude: decent, gentle, nice, polite, refined
Love is humble, modest, meek, and unconceited, decent, gentle, nice, polite, and refined. That sounds about right. The first list concerns mostly what's happening inside our heads, our perspective on who we are. The second, on how we interact with others, in thought, word, and deed. How beautiful would it be to be described like this?!
We need a perspective change before we can experience a behavioral transformation. Looking to Jesus is the ticket! He resisted the temptation to both while He walked the Earth, so that we could be rescued from them! We can unashamedly say, Hey, I'm arrogant and rude, because the Gospel gives us a proper perspective on who we are. It flattens us in the dust by telling us the truth about our self, rescuing us from the deception that arrogance wields over us. Then, the Gospel picks us up, dusts us off, hands us clean clothes, fills us with power, and gives us a job to do!
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Paul encourages the Philippian church to live like this. If it came naturally, they wouldn't need reminding. But just like us, they needed reminding. Paul goes on to tell them to have the same mind of Christ among them, who, though equal with God, humbled Himself before God and was obedient to the call on His life. Then the Lord lifted Him up and exalted Him and gave Him the name Lord!
Before glory, comes humiliation. But even in humiliation there is the constant comfort of knowing we belong to God and are His beloved child. And that is enough to carry us to glory living alive in humility in the meantime! We know we are hopeless and helpless without our Lord. We know everyone else is, too. Meditating on the Good News of the Gospel keeps us grounded in the reality that we deserve nothing, yet have been given everything! I can't be arrogant and rude to you if I'm lost in the wonder of God's love for me; that love will pour out of me in compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience.
So, what am I trying to say today? Simply this:
If you want to be able to flee arrogance and rudeness and live alive, you need to stay close to Christ, regularly remembering what He's done for you, His promises to you, and how He's called you to take up your cross daily and follow Him. We cannot have an "exaggerated sense of [Christ's] importance or abilities" because there aren't enough words in the world in all the languages to express His majesty and greatness! The Gospel keeps us in our place in the very best way, because it meets our needs while eliminating all cause for arrogance and rudeness. The Gospel sets us free to love one another.
If you are in Christ you are ALIVE!
Enjoy Him, and the rest will fall into place.