Friday, August 3, 2012

Pride and Humility

Disclaimer: This blog is purely covering what I have been learning in terms of Christianity. 

Sometimes, my week has a theme or a "lesson" in it.  I will see or hear the same things repeatedly until I can't ignore the lesson I need to learn. And it's funny how it always starts with one little thing.  Then, it just shows up everywhere in my life. Because of this, I feel like I have to blog about it. 

It's the whole "LOOK at ME" conundrum.

I do believe that we all like to feel good about ourselves. We like to feel as though we're doing things right. And there is a sense of accomplishment when someone else or something else confirms for us that we are. But there is a fine line here. It's the line between doing something right because it is right and doing something right so that we can boast about it.

"May I never boast except in the cross..." says Paul in Galatians. I feel like it is so easy to boast or brag. I think almost everyone can remember a kid in their class growing up who not only excelled at what they did, but that kid also gloated about it.  Nobody liked that kid. For anyone familiar with the show The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper is that kid. While he is amusing on television, nobody likes a person that arrogant in real life.  Because giving yourself accolades for what you do is like popping a balloon. Nobody really cares then.

But what I have been noticing is even deeper than that. Giving is a good thing, right? I think we should be generous and charitable. Can giving be a bad thing, though? How can giving to people be bad? Ultimately, the act in and of itself ends up benefitting somebody.  So, I wouldn't say it is horribly bad. But the error in being charitable is when we make a scene out of it. We should give because we give--whether or not anybody says "thank you," whether or not anybody takes a picture, whether or not anybody anywhere even knows. 

And this is why Jesus himself says in Matthew 6:1-3 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so your giving may be in secret."

Why would Jesus want us to give in secret? Because we are prone to stroking our own egos. We are prone to bragging about our "righteous acts." If my heart is truly generous, I will give to those in need without a crowd of spectators. We so often want a reward for what we do.  But what about just doing it just because? Too often we do the "right thing" just to be seen doing the right thing. I know I do it. But I do believe that true Christian maturity means doing the right thing without making a scene for everyone can see.