“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.”
Raising beautiful cut-outs, I remember vividly the enthusiastic shouts “Vote for Dove” while contesting in primary school elections with Dove being my symbol. As a part of the election propaganda, all the contestants were given few minutes to speak, and each of us praised ourselves to glory justifying we are the best.
It was and still is a pleasant memory to me. Recently I encountered a few people who would just not stop speaking about themselves. Despite their credentials, hard-work, skills and efforts, the placement of “I” before everything seemed an overdose. I slowly moved from a state of giving importance to the content to being bored with the “I” statements.
Matthew 7:3,4 says, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye and look, a plank is in your own eye”. This made me introspect the moments, reasons and consequences of using the “I” statements, and to my surprise, I did find a lot of such unconscious moments in my day to day life.
Lack of recognition, appreciation and under-estimation by parents, superiors, bosses etc leads to frustration, and as an attempt of staying positive, we start praising ourselves often accompanied with a fake humility.
One illustration we find in the Bible is how the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son begins to praise himself when he felt he was unrecognised and not appreciated – “Lo, these many years I have been serving you, I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends” (Luke 15:29).
Self-righteousness is yet another dangerous attitude we might get into, lest we watch and pray for God’s humility to reign within us. In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), we find how self-righteousness leads to self-praising “I” statements. Jesus says in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”.
When priorities interchange and we place ourselves above God, we may even go to the extent of saying “I am making God act”. Though this statement sounds funny, do we realize there have been times where we have heard us or others saying ‘I prayed’, ‘I healed’, ‘I did’, ‘I prophesied’ etc taking God completely out of the picture?
When John the Baptist is questioned about his identity, his extreme humility is witnessed in his response – He calls himself to be the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, making straight the way of the Lord. He again says in John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease.”
My dear friends in Christ, don’t you think we must follow the example of John the Baptist who despite being a very strong person with numerous followers, still chooses to give Jesus the credit and completely humbles himself.
May our lives bear the image of Christ, and everything that we think, do and preach be for the glory of God. Let us do everything with sincerity so that others may see and praise us as vessels bearing the Master’s witness. Let us consciously practice to stay humble in all circumstances and realize it is only the power of Christ that gets us going.
As we live in a world of increasing Christian persecutions even in regions where historically peace and harmony prevailed, may the strangers praise us and find Christ through us. May we proudly say, It is no longer I but Christ? Amen.