Forgiveness. It's essential to our life in Christ. His forgiveness gives us new life. There is no redemption without forgiveness. And yet, we struggle with this area, despite knowing how much we ourselves have been forgiven.
So far, the chapter "The Way Up is Down," which talks about humility, has been the chapter I've thought about the most. We cannot approach someone to ask forgiveness or be able to extend forgiveness without it. This means fighting our pride.
Brauns points out that pride manifests itself in subtle ways:
Pride is not limited to arrogance or cockiness; it is not just an inflated opinion of oneself. Pride is any way of putting self into the central focus. This distinction is critical because if we understand it, we can identify more subtle, more insidious kinds of pride.Brauns suggests some more subtle ways of demonstrating pride:
- being overly critical
- being overly sensitive
- being impatient with the shortcoming of others
- presuming upon others
- being easily embarrassed
- being given to worry
Identifying our pride means examining our hearts and our motives. It means being willing to admit we offend others and are on occasion too easily offended ourselves. We have to examine ourselves closely, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. There are times when we are oblivious to how we come across.
Sometimes, the best way to identify pride in ourselves is to look carefully at how we react to it in others. I have found that on occasion, the things I find most objectionable in others is actually something I do myself. Do I get impatient with complainers? Well, take a look in the mirror, self; you do it, too. When we react strongly to someone, I think it's even more crucial that we ask ourselves why we react that way.
The perfect example of humility was, of course, Christ. In Philippians 2:5-11, we have that beautiful passage where Paul describes Christ's humility, how he emptied himself, how he gave up what was due him. How often do we empty ourselves, and put aside our perceived "rights?"
I struggle with demonstrating humility, but I know what it looks like. All I need to do is look to the cross. This is why knowing God is so crucial; we cannot model what we do not know. Forgiveness is not negotiable in the Christian life, and neither is humility. I don't know how we can have one without the other.