Have you ever been there before—you know, when someone else catches your eye and you have that thought? No, not that thought…the other thought: the impression floating through your mind that you are better than that person.
The tendency to elevate ourselves above others is a tragedy that has developed conflict throughout our world. Just turn on the news to see examples. Unfortunately, though, this is not a new phenomenon. This behavior has been occurring for generations, such as in the Biblical account of the Pharisee thanking God for not making him like the tax collector, an “evil” person (Luke 18:11). Comparing the wrongdoings and apparent characters of the Pharisee and the tax collectors, was this seemingly holy man justified in feeling so good about himself?
From the riots in our cities to the self-proclaimed prophets of God/protestors of humanity, we have become nightly witnesses to the tragedy of the continual elevation of “ME.”
Putting ourselves above others creates unneeded tension in a world that is already overwhelmed by hurt and heartache. It also does not nullify truth or cause God to adjust His standards. Refusing to elevate “ME” is simply to realize that you are not better than another person (and that he or she is not better than you). In the eyes of God, we are all equal—just a whole bunch of messed up people trying to make the next right choice.
Look back at the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both men, standing before God, revealed their hearts. One man was satisfied that he had not fallen prey to the other’s sins and, therefore, felt pretty good about himself. The other man was not satisfied with who he was outside of a relationship with God.
What about you? Are you satisfied that at least you are not making those mistakes that you find detestable? Or, like the tax collector, do you recognize that we are all taking the same journey?
Standing before God, you will not be compared to other people. No one will say, “Well, at least you did not mess up like that other guy.” It will just be you and God, the life you chose to live and the standards that He desires. In an apparent attempt to feel better, we, like the Pharisee, tend to elevate ourselves at the expense of other people, but this will have no meaning when we stand before God.
In talking with people who have experienced this type of abuse, I learned something significant: it hurts. The pain of elevating oneself develops scars and creates tension. This tension, in turn, can cause us to become just another statistic on the nightly news. One person expressed their frustrations to me by saying: “For years, I had to convince myself that it didn’t bother me, that it was no big deal. But as the years go on and I learn more about myself, I recognize how deeply this has affected me. I feel shame and embarrassment about who I was...”
The cycle of self-elevation needs to end, and it can end, starting with you and me. Each person is a part of the cause of this cycle, and each person shares its burdens. To free us from this crisis of humanity, stop the elevation of “ME”!
See each person through the eyes of God, as His child whom He desperately loves and made great sacrifices for. Living in a culture of self-imposed “rights,” we have grown accustomed to selfishness. Transforming our desires into things that we feel we deserve has created much tension.
What if we put aside our so-called “rights” for the sake of others? What if we put aside what we feel that we deserve in order to help make another person’s life better? That is sacrifice, and sacrifice is love in action.
It really would not take much—just a simple adjustment of the heart, a transition from elevating “ME” to elevating “YOU.”