Words of Worth

“Who are you and what do you do?”

February 3, 2012

It’s a very common scenario and takes place thousands of times every day all over the world.  Two people meet for the first time and they engage in the “get to know each other” routine.  Within minutes, this question will be asked, “What do you do?”  Typically the answer to that question will be some sort of definition of a job or a place of employment.  Sometimes how the person is dressed will give a clue to his or her occupation.  If you were to ask Sheryl, “What do you do?” she would tell you, “I teach teachers.”  It’s a rather simple explanation for the specific and unique call on her life and it explains a lot about who she is.

The apostle Paul who had a rather impressive resume (he was a Pharisee among Pharisees! See Philippians 3:17) identified himself rather simply in the first verse of the book of Philippians.  He called himself a bondservant.  Now in today’s culture, that is a foreign term but in Bible times, everyone would have known exactly what he meant.  A bondservant was a person who could be free but chose to stay and serve his master and the master’s family.  For Paul to associate himself with this class of people made a huge statement.  He was saying, “I could be a distinguished leader but instead I am here to serve.”

I think Paul sets an example for us in the way he humbly views himself because thinking more highly of ourselves than we should is a major joy stealer in our lives.

Moving to the Northeast from Mississippi was not quite as traumatic as moving to another country where I would have had to learn a new language.  Even so, I quickly realized there are catchphrases and sayings I used that just didn’t translate here.  Once I was talking with a friend who has a daughter the same age as mine.  We were discussing how as children approach a certain age, a certain “attitude” tends to grow along with them.  My friend said, “Yep!  My girl’s gotten on her furry britches.”

I had no idea what she meant so I asked her to repeat it.  When she did, I heard the same catchphrase “furry britches”.  Being new to the Northeast, I assumed it had something to do with the cold weather and maybe her daughter had fur-lined pants.  Just to verify, I asked one more time and she said, “In the South, you don’t say someone gets too big for their britches?”  OH!!!  Not “furry britches” but too big FOR HER britches.  In other words, her daughter was too full of herself and it showed in her attitude.

Thinking too highly of ourselves will steal our joy every single time.  A very good indicator of crossing this line is when we spend more time thinking about our rights than we do our privileges.   We think about what we are owed rather than what we can freely offer to others.  We put our schedules, wants, needs, and desires at the top of the “to-do” list and expect everyone else to take our list and make it their priority.  Then we wonder what happened to our joy?

What a contrast to Paul’s attitude!  What a greater contrast to the attitude of Jesus who before He was crucified for our sins, took on the lowliest role of all and washed the feet of His disciples.  (John 13:1-17)  That might be stunning enough but to think He willingly washed the feet of someone ready to betray Him goes beyond our human belief.  Yet, He set the supreme example,

“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  

John 13:14

Jesus, Who was the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s nature and Who upholds all things by the word of His power, took on the role of a servant.  That thought should fill us all with awe and wonder.

It’s hard to wash feet while wearing furry britches. Maybe it’s time we check how we identify ourselves by what we are wearing. (CT)

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