I get seduced, often, by the brash, self-exalting trumpeting that passes as success or manhood in certain circles. I know conservative Christians who do it, people who I’d agree with on theology and ethics, but who speak or e-mail or post in a way that magnifies themselves and denigrates almost everyone else. I see it on reality TV, on Shark Tank, in the NFL and UFC and in Donald Trump. And of course I often see it in myself. When I look down on someone whose life is a little more chaotic than mine, or when I deem myself a failure for all the wrong reasons.
It’s an attractive lie, that being strong and successful and self-vindicating is a satisfying way of life.
But Jesus is strong as iron, unbreakable, and His glory and worth outshine every king and model and billionaire. Jesus is purer and better and more central to the story than any of us. And He allowed Himself to be humiliated and punished so that the ones given to Him might be rescued.
Good strength gives of itself. Good love isn’t puffed up. A Christlike heart doesn’t need to beat its chest and shout out its greatness. A mind conformed to be like His doesn’t need to fret about carving out its place in the world; it is free to give of itself and humble itself. A Christlike soul can simply rest in what it has received.
The degree to which we clamor to prove ourselves, to which we brag about our righteousness and despair about our failures, reveals how far our heart is from the Messiah’s.
Only fake gods have to counterfeit their strength.
The real God traded glory for shame, and wore a crown of thorns while Pilate hid in his palace, scared of a crowd. The rest of us seek to be gods, and would often sooner die than give up what we hope will be our glory. But Jesus took on skin and washed feet like a slave and hung on a Roman Cross and endured the wrath of God, and did it all freely.
Tonight I pray for a heart more like His. To have a heart so satisfied in God that being braggadocious seems obnoxious, and being self-forgetful a joy.
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
2 Corinthians 10:12