Sunday, October 16, 2016
Did You Meme That? #1 - Don't You Dare Shrink Yourself...
I'm starting a new page at the Home Maker's Corner called "Words Mean Things". I have had a growing burden for awhile about various issues related to words, writing, and speaking, and it seemed like it would be good to consider some of these things. The first section to be added on this page is "Did You Meme That?" - a discussion of various memes that I've collected on blogs and in social media. This is the first meme in that series.
Because there is so much emphasis put on being strong and smart, and even fierce, these days, it could be a temptation to think that this is good advice. But, as Christians we should ask how it measures up to the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
We often hear and quote verse 5 without the following verses. The mind of Christ is not about being big and important. In fact, although He knew that He was equal with God as His Son, He did shrink Himself for the comfort of others! He intentionally became "small" for people who didn't know how to grow or wouldn't. He became a servant, He humbled Himself so that He could die for our sins and give us the comfort of salvation and eternal life!
When He was living on this earth He could talk with a woman who had had five husbands and was living with the man she then had without making her feel small (John 4:5 and following). He could live with fishermen without making them feel small or ignorant. He could tell a woman found in adultery to "go and sin no more" without making her feel worthless (John 8:11). No, the key to not making others feel small is to humble ourselves as Jesus did, to shrink ourselves so that we can comfort others at the level of their suffering.
Someone might argue that the Pharisees and scribes were small-minded, which is true in some ways; but we tend to forget that they were the spiritual elite of their day and were held in high esteem. They were the ones who refused to become small in order to help others learn to grow. Jesus Christ rejected their high handed methods.
Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
We tend to think of condescension as a bad thing because of its modern usage. But, let's look at where it came from. "Condescend" comes from the Latin: "con" - together; "descendere" - descend. It came to us through the Old French and in the Middle English it meant to "give way, or defer". I think we've lost a good word somewhere along the way because literally this means to descend together - we might think of all coming to the same level with no one being above another (not to be high minded or exalting ourselves or others above measure, 2 Corinthians 12:7). It also has the idea of giving way to others or deferring to one another. In other words, being kind and not thinking more highly or ourselves than we ought. Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
According to Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, we find that "condescend" once meant "To depart voluntarily from the privileges of superiority; to sink willingly to equal terms with inferiors...To consent to do more than mere justice can require...To stoop; to bend...To agree to, or concur with."
Some of this reminds me of Jesus voluntarily taking upon Himself the form of a servant and stooping to our low estate as mere humans so that He could help us. Whether the low estate of others is social, intellectual or spiritual, we have a truly astounding example in Jesus Christ who humbled Himself in all areas to meet us where we are.
Obviously, there are times and situations in which we cannot agree or concur with someone's small ideas of life, the Bible, right and wrong, and the world. But, we can ask ourselves, "How can I point this person's thoughts toward the truth as Christ has done for me?" Because, if we're honest with ourselves, we've all been that small minded person at some point in our lives and needed to have our views and ideas expanded in a way that would make us more conformed to the image of God's Son (Romans 8:29).
Strong people who know what they believe and why, are not afraid to meet someone else in the shallow end of the pool and gently help them learn to swim in deeper waters, so to speak. Our family has a friend who is a very knowledgeable person. He has studied long and hard and my brother has heard him discuss theology at a level that most of us would find almost impossible to understand. But, he has a praiseworthy ability to level himself in whatever company he finds himself. He can talk to people where they are mentally, spiritually, and in their education without them ever realizing that he is so far ahead of them in so many ways. I respect him much in the Lord for this. It is a real example to me of what it means to condescend in the biblical sense of the word.
To make ourselves small so that God might be made great in the eyes of someone else, this is the mind Christ. We do not have to deny our own abilities or who we are before God to do this because Jesus did not deny His own deity, but He denied Himself in many ways so that He might bring us life.
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: