By Laura Bailey, Crosswalk.com
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3, NIV
Do you know people who always have to have the last word? Me too, I live with one–me.
I could blame my red hair, fiery spirit, and outspoken nature for my lack of self-control. But the truth is, I often prioritize being right over being considerate of other people’s feelings. I’ve always struggled in the taming the tongue arena. Still, graciously, the Lord has helped to “set a guard over my mouth and keep watch on the door of my lips,” as it says in Psalms 141:3. However, if I don’t bite hard enough on my tongue words slip out that I inevitably regret as soon as they land in the receiver’s ears.
After a recent interaction with a team member, I shared my frustration with my husband. There wasn’t anything overly dramatic about the encounter; we had different opinions on future direction. In just a few minutes, her opposition to my leadership, albeit friendly and polite, stirred my prideful spirit.
“Why!? Why can’t I just let things go, take a minute to pause before I respond, and walk away without having the last word?” I asked my husband. He tried to comfort me with, “ I am sure it wasn’t that bad,” and “ you could always apologize,” but I still felt an uneasiness in my spirit.
I genuinely love people. I want to hear their opinions, perspectives, and concerns, especially when they feel slighted or unseen–as long as they don’t contradict or question my decisions, leadership, or direction. Maybe you relate? If so, you understand how this is a dangerous spot to be in as a Christian.
In the second half of Romans, Paul shared how to live a godly life. These chapters are filled with biblical wisdom and practical advice to help the Romans and us live a life worthy of the Gospel and in harmony with each other. Specifically, in our key verse, Romans 12:3, Paul reminded us that our actions are the evidence of God's mercy in our lives. The prior verses exhort believers to offer their bodies, minds, and hearts as a daily sacrifice to the Lord.
We are quick to make ourselves the story's hero, the center of attention, and the ultimate standard of perfection. We see in Romans 12:3 that this way of thinking runs counter to how we should see ourselves. We are not the standard; God is the standard. Accepting this truth, we see ourselves as needy, undeserving, and sinners in need of saving. Paul isn’t trying to discourage us from having a healthy dose of confidence or thinking positively about our achievements and worth. Instead, he wants us to understand how an inflated view of ourselves can harm our interactions with others.
We don’t have to have the last word or worry about what people think about us; through faith, we can lay down having to be correct. God has a plan and purpose for each one of His children. God wants to work in and through us, so we must properly understand who we are and remember that He has the power and authority, not us.
If you relate to my struggle, join me in tampering down our sometimes overinflated view of self to engage in more productive conversations with the body of believers. Over time, as our hearts soften and our lives look more like Jesus, it won’t be as difficult to “hold our tongues” or be okay with walking away, not having proven our point. When we begin to see people as Jesus sees them and care more about the person than our pride, we show the power of Christ.
Heavenly Father, there are so many times that I allow my pride to get in the way of my testimony. I am sorry for flying off the handle, losing my temper, or simply answering with unkind words. Lord, thank you for loving me, forgiving me, and offering grace. Help me to be more like you tomorrow than I was today. Guide my heart, thoughts, and speech as I seek to honor You and love people. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Deagreez
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