… if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?” The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive and is competitive by its very nature… Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
How do you value yourself? If you’re like me, at times your sense of worth is not intrinsically based on who you are, but on circumstance and ability. If I feel that I am more capable then those around me, I consider myself valuable. On the flip side if I feel dwarfed by a situation then I easily become intimidated, feel useless and would rather someone else take control.
My sense of value becomes the gap, the difference between my ability and the next guy’s. If I perceive that my ability/opportunity/popularity/whatever is more than those around me then the difference between me and them measures how important I am. Alternatively, if I feel incapable, then the difference shows how useless I am. The greater the perceived gap, the greater the swing in self worth.
The view above is based on the idea that God has a finite amount of value that he has distributed meaning that more you get, the less there is for me. Galatians 6 gives a different view
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. – Galatians 6:4-5, The Message
There is far more liberty in knowing that your value is based intrinsically in a God that loves you then believing it is relative to other people. The next time you feel intimated or proud, think for a second, who are you comparing yourself to?
Footnote: The above evolved from a communion message I had the opportunity to give last month in church. If you’re interested you can find the full recording here (Authentic). And while you’re at it, check out the new Christian Life Centre website because now you can.