I am not proud to be an American.
First of all, if you know me at all, you know that I truly DO love my country, and that I’m going to twist that statement to prove a point. So don’t jump to any conclusions yet !! By the time we’ve finished this morning, you’ll know exactly what I mean, and you’ll probably agree.
But first, welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert,” thanks for popping in and spending a few minutes together. My goal is to introduce people to the Jesus they never knew, and help them get to know Him and His word personally – and better ! If our time together today makes you think or speak to your heart, then let me invite you to like, subscribe and share it with a friend ! Let’s dive in!
Why would I say “I’m not proud to be an American” and what could I possibly mean? Let me begin my explanation by defining the word “PRIDE,” since that lies at the core of what I’m trying to convey.
Up until very recently, pride was a concept related to accomplishment. In today’s woke culture there has been a deliberate move to blur that distinction, eliminate competition of all types, recognise participation and assign “pride” to things which have no logical connection to personal accomplishment whatsoever. In other words, people announce that they are “proud” of things they have absolutely no control over.
So when I say, “I’m not proud to be an American” it is not a political statement or a value judgement at all. I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that outcome. I didn’t evaluate the various countries on the planet in some pre-birth location and decide to get in the “American” line. I cannot be “proud” of something that was a result of factors I was utterly unaware of, had no control over, and couldn’t possibly impact if I wanted to. For the record, I’m also not proud of being born on a Monday, having incredibly blue eyes or possessing a belly button.
Pride is properly claimed when we have invested significant time and effort in order to achieve or become something. One of my sons invested years of training into earning his black belt in karate. He can say, “I’m proud to have a black belt” because he earned it and it marks an incredible accomplishment. Someone who purchases one online may “have” a black belt (in the sense of being in physical possession of one), but if they said they were “proud” to have one it would be absurd. A Canadian friend just submitted her final exam to the faculty at the Queen Mary University School of Law, one of the top ranked law schools in the world. Years of hard work will result in a degree she can be “proud” of, to be sure. But if I grab an image of a Harvard law degree online and add my name, different story. That’s a cause for shame, which is the opposite of pride. There is such a thing as “stolen valor,” too. And that brings us to today’s verse.
Today’s verse says DON’T TRY TO IMPRESS OTHERS.
I said shame is the opposite of pride, but you may think the opposite of pride is humility. But isn’t shame what one should feel when dishonestly claiming honor or accolades, either for some accomplishment they never achieved or for a characteristic over which they have no control. Humility is putting your accomplishments in their proper perspective; and using whatever skills, licenses, titles or positions you may possess to serve others. Trying to impress others will drive them away, while trying to serve them will tend to draw them in and allow us to impact their lives.
Trying to impress people is a matter of HOLDING UP things we want others to see in the hopes they will think more highly of us. Serving other people is a matter of HOLDING OUT our skills, gifts and talents to enable them to gain some benefit or assistance. Pride leads us towards arrogance, humility towards gentleness.
As followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t look only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. We ought to do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves; serving Christ by serving those He loves. It’s when they see Him in us that lives are changed. Jesus told His disciples that He didn’t come to be served, He came to serve. As we follow Him, we should be imitators of God, the way children imitate a beloved parent. We need to walk out our love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. If we say we are following Him, we ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. Serving, loving, giving and caring.
DON’T TRY TO IMPRESS OTHERS
People will focus on pride, and create days, weeks and months to take pride in things that are valueless at best and destructive at worst; things which are not “accomplishments” at all. How should we deal with prideful people?
Try to serve them. Determine to love them. Look for ways to let them see the love of God and the power of God in you. That’s the road Jesus walked. Lead them to Jesus, and let Him sort out their confusion and sin. Jesus is able to change whatever needs to be changed. He is able to add or remove whatever He wishes as people conform themselves to Him and His image. It’s our job to love, to serve, to teach by word and example; it’s His job to save others and conform them to His image.
Instead of speaking of pride, let’s speak of loving service. How can you and I show someone the love of Christ today?