Monday, October 5, 2009

The Grass that Suffers - Denial and Pride

Spirit & Truth # 149
“The Grass that Suffers: Denial and Pride”

By Rev. Greg Smith

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest (Mark 9:33-34).

Our culture is obsessed with proving who’s the greatest. Our sports heroes become heroes by dominating other players. Our most intimate relationships are marked by contests of will, and competition defines the marketplace. Perhaps we could learn something from the story of Jesus’ disciples.

Last week we saw how arguments arise out of ignorance. Combative relationships are made worse by denial—a refusal to admit that there’s any conflict there to begin with. Jesus asked his disciples what they were discussing (a mild term for what they were actually doing), and they refused to admit that there had been a dispute. Are you in a relationship that’s marred by conflict? It does you no good to deny the problem. Admit the brokenness in your relationship, and let God heal it.

Pride is at the center of almost every argument. The disciples were arguing because they had to prove which one was the greatest. When husbands and wives argue, it’s because each one is putting self first, rather than the other first. They are placing a greater priority over their own needs, wants, and ideas. Jesus has a solution to this problem of denial and pride.

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35).” First, Jesus sat down. When conflicts arise, take a break. Cool off. Get out of fight-posture. Next, he threw an idea at them that totally blew their minds. Place yourself last! Recently, I spoke with a husband in a difficult marriage. I encouraged him to become a servant to his wife, and love her with all he had in him—without expectation of any reward! What a concept—to love for the sake of loving!

Jesus “took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me (Vv 36-37a).’” You have to understand the place of children in Jesus’ day to truly appreciate what He was saying. Children had no rights. They were property. They were cheap labor, disposable, and easily replaceable. Jesus said we are to welcome the lowliest of the lowly in His name. Even if you think the one you’re arguing with has no rights, treat them well, and you will have welcomed Christ.

An African proverb says, “When two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.” Who is the grass that’s suffering as you’re fighting with your spouse, your co-worker, your neighbor, or a fellow churchgoer? What do the children around you see and hear? How do the innocent pay the price for your ignorance, denial, and pride? Jesus wants you to put yourself last, and become the servant of all. Only then can you have your way—because your way will be God’s way.

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