Every Family Has a Proud Mary or Larry

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, told me his cousin Larry arrived for a visit from Edmonton last weekend. My old friend never misses a chance to exaggerate, so he said that his cousin kept his nose so high in the air that his small brain lacked oxygen. At least, Ed did not label his cousin Larry, a pompous donkey, this time, as he has been prone to do in the past. According to Ed, Larry does not have even one tiny humble bone in his body. His cousin was an unbending authority on everything the whole time they visited. I can imagine a hard weekend for everyone having two unending experts under one roof.

We often become keenly aware of the self-centered, arrogance of others, but believe our attitudes and lives are free of pride. It has been said that humility is a virtue all preach, none practice and that no one takes seriously that pride goes before a fall. Pride is not the so blessed assurance that we are ahead of, or wiser than, and better than others. Humility according to Ivan O. Miller is, “Such a frail and delicate thing that he who dares to think that he has it, proves by that single thought that he has it not.” Humility is very tough for us because as Spurgeon said, “Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself.”

It is way easier to see how others are proud than to be objective about ourselves or our principled stand on issues. There were many sure that Jesus should not heal on the Sabbath because it was work. They were proud of their opinions that there should never be any exceptions to the rule of not working on the Sabbath. Jewish law did permit for work on the Sabbath for an emergency for example if an animal or person was in danger if they fell into a well you could work to rescue them. When Jesus healed a man with dropsy on the Sabbath, Jesus challenged his critics before he healed the man asking if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not. They remained silent but resentful, and confident Jesus was wrong in healing on the Sabbath, and they were right. Proudness is refusing to consider any other opinion but your own.

Jesus told a parable to his critics that pictured people invited to a wedding feast who tried to chose the best seats for the event for themselves. They had an over-inflated opinion of themselves as among the most prominent guests invited. If they took the best seats, they might be asked to move to less important ones, and more important guests take their seats. It would be better to sit among the least important guests and have the host usher them to a better seat. Jesus was teaching if you exalt yourself you will be humbled. If you humble yourself, you will be exalted.

Jesus could see selfishness in who we invite to dinner. We invite friends, family, and neighbors, who will ask us in return. Don’t we ignore the poor and infirmed who cannot repay us? The humble give without wanting to get back or for recognition. Surely it is hard to be humble!

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