Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another's Praise

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."(Proverbs 27:2) For fours years now teenagers from the Caer have been involved in a Christian sports league. There is a tradition within the league that at the end of a game or match each team huddles together and shouts the other team's name. This is a salute, a recognition of the other team coming to compete. The attitude expressed in that one shout is, "Thank you for competing today, we recognize your effort and appreciate you no matter who was the victor today." It is a fitting end to Christian competition on the sports field.

One team in the league we played recently did not finish the match in that way. Instead, at the end of the match, they huddled together and shouted their own names. At first I thought I was mistaken when the junior varsity did it. Then I listened more attentively after the varsity played, and sure enough, they shouted their own name at the end of the game. Now, I can see shouting for yourself at the beginning of the competition. You are trying to encourage your team on to do their best. But at the end of the game, a simple recognition of the dignity of your opponent is warranted. But this team did not recognize anyone but themselves. What a disappointment.

The Scriptures are full of enough instruction about such behavior. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." (Phil 2:3) God's Word instructs us about humility, consideration of the other person before ourselves, and honor and love to be extended to one another. We are supposed to do good to others, especially of the household of faith. How we receive this teaching and live it out extends to how we conduct ourselves at home, on the field of competition, at worship, in labors, in relationships. It is a tall order, but commanded of us.

So this team's actions got me thinking. How many times do I pat myself on the back? Do I cheer only for my own children? Do I only see whether my kids are getting recognized or do I rejoice when other children are doing well? Do I praise my own efforts or do I look at other's and praise them? Do I act merely to receive thanks or do I act to pour love into a Christian brother or sister? Do I consider others more important than myself and my family? Do I work at this attitude in all interactions with others?

The two greatest commandments come to the forefront once again. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love others as you love yourself. As Christians, we need to consider whether our reputation is to shout our own name. Are we being like the fat sheep in Ezekiel 34 and pushing with side and shoulder to get the best pasture and water for ourselves? Or are we letting the mind of Christ be in us and making ourselves of no reputation except of service and obedience unto God? Only one of those options meets God's requirements.

----posted by Queen Lucy