Divisions, strife, envy, jealousies, anger, insulting, bitterness, rebellion and a host of other unpleasant things can all be traced back to human pride. In fact up until this century it was commonly believed that the root of all evil in the world was people who had "too high" a view of themselves. They believed they should be in power, that their opinions and beliefs were the right ones
Oddly enough in this century we have gone in the opposite direction. Now, people claim that most evil comes from those who have "too low" an opinion of themselves. The man who beats his wife, well that's because he was abused as a child and feels he doesn't deserve any love. The kid who takes a gun to school and kills his classmates, well that's because he was treated as an outcast and he wants to prove to them that he is somebody.
So which one is correct? Neither and yet both. Whether we think we are better than everyone or we think we are not as good as everyone, the problem lies in that we are thinking of ourselves at all! God, Almighty, our Creator, lays out the perfect solution for self-centeredness throughout the Bible in many passages such as
Love your neighbor as yourself
Consider others more important than yourself
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
What happens when our focus is on SELF (whether in Pride or self-abasement) is that we are easily offended by every little thing. We are quick to voice our opinions on every topic and desperately seek the approval of others. We get angry when challenged and depressed when insulted. The world revolves around us and our feelings. People like this are difficult to be around. They are quick tempered and moody and always thinking how every situation involves them and their needs. It's a miserable existence for both them and everyone around them.
But let's face it, we all have a bit of this in us. Human nature is self-centered. For most of us, it's truly a battle to think of others first.
The Apostle Paul had a great perspective on this.
for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by
any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
1 Corinthians 4:3 NLT
Paul could have cared less what others thought of him. He didn't even judge himself!! He was in a state of self-forgetfulness. He was neither proud nor insecure. He wasn't anything at all. He knew that everything he was came from God and that God's opinion mattered most of all. Paul spent his life in the service of God and man, eventually being martyred for his beliefs. He was a true example of self-forgetfulness because he realized life was not about him and his needs. He knew he was Loved by God and that his needs would be met. And everything else he did was for the purpose God called him.
I love that he didn't even judge himself!! I'm so guilty of being critical of myself! I spend hours thinking of all the bad things I did in my past and even things I've done recently.. and kicking myself for my behavior. But isn't that a form of selfishness? Any time we are spending an inordinate amount of time thinking of ourselves... this is selfishness. Ah, to be free of self!!!
Only by the power of God's Spirit can we ever hope to be self-forgetfull. I'm praying for that for myself. What a peaceful, loving, fulfilling existence that would be to not have to worry about my feelings, thoughts, needs, pride, past, etc. . . but to instead be focusing on what I can do for others and to spread the love of God to those in need.
I hope you'll join me on the journey!