James 1:19-20— My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
When I am involved in a disagreement (argument?), the common denominator in every one of them is always…well, me. Or you, if you are the one involved. Actually, the root of all my problems is me. Or you, if you are the one involved. Think about it. All of us live on a continuum somewhere between gratitude and entitlement with most of our teeter-totters heavily favoring the entitlement side. Maybe not the government-handout entitlement, but just that part of our self-esteem that somehow thinks WE matter most. People should treat us special. Good things are due to us. After all, we work hard. Most people don’t hate us. We’ve never murdered anyone. Surely we deserve some perks for our efforts. Um-hmm. Keep talking.
Pride at its finest.
I imagine it’s thoughts like this that prompted atheist-turned-Christian C.S. Lewis to call pride the “root of all sin.” He’s right. Who of us doesn’t stubbornly want our way? I try not to, but usually, I’m right, so it’s hard to back down. And yes, I am kidding (sort of). Whoever wrote the adage “You can be right, or you can be married” understood the difficulty in two disagreeing people working toward compromise. Pride makes us want to be right. Like I said, we are entitled.
Lord, help us!
Fortunately, He does, and He used Paul to write to the Romans to explain how we adjust on our temperamental teeter-totter. The first eight chapters give us clear instruction that we are saved by faith. The next three chapters are about God’s mercy that we don’t deserve.
Then we hit Chapter 12: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Notice the first word of verse one: “Therefore.” In other words, “Because of what you have just read about God’s mercy and provision in the first eleven chapters, it’s time to do something. For starters, change your stinkin’ way of thinkin’. Stop putting yourself first.
I know that’s possible, but sometimes it is really, really hard.
While I am writing this article, my phone is on hold with Frontier Airlines. For thirty-five minutes I have been listening to classical music while I stew because, after a month of phone calls (always being told they have “higher than normal hold times,”), they disconnect me. My emails have been answered with an “automatic reply,” promising a response within seven days. Not happening.
The problem? The airline canceled Dave’s flight to attend our granddaughter’s June 8th wedding, offering instead to put him on another flight that would get him there seven hours AFTER the wedding started, AND since they have no reciprocal agreements with any other airlines, that was “the best” they could do. Are you feeling my frustration?
And yes, I know that how I handle this phone call (if I don’t die first while listening to Bach) will indicate my level of pride. Will I chew out some poor, underpaid customer service agent or “renew my mind” and be a witness for Christ?
You will be pleased to know that during this incessantly long delay, I am praying for some Godly intervention. I’m pretty confident I know what my choice will be.