Don’t Toot your Own Horn (Putting off Self), Peacemaking Part 2A
Why are we so selfish?
It’s a simple, and yet loaded question. Before you say, I’m not selfish, do you ever think any of these things: “I need to be in control all the time.” “MY time is more important than YOUR time or US time.” “I can do this on my own.” “I’m not going to share.” “I’m not going to go out of my way.” “I’m SO wonderful.”
You may not even realize you’re doing it. Someone praises your work and you feel all puffed up with pride – “well of course it was a good job; I deserve this praise after all the time I put into it and all the effort I made.” Your husband is infringing on your nightly tv show – “Honey can you make me this… or get me that…” and you snap back, “Not now! After the show’s over.” You realize there’s one cookie left in the cookie jar and you had 3 cookies yesterday and your husband had none – “But he’s not here right now. And I really want a cookie.”
Tooting Your Own Horn
All of us have a “horn” so to speak – an inner sense of pride. Having pride isn’t always a bad thing as it’s okay to feel good about an accomplishment, about your husband or your kids, about wanting nice things. Even the Proverbs 31 woman wanted nice things for herself and a nice home. BUT the problem is we way too often take pride over the top. We want to fan our feathers for others to see. We take too much of the credit. We talk too much about ourselves. We gush about our husbands or our children (or our accomplishments) ad nauseum. The Bible even says, “Let another one praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2).
It’s hard to put off self. We all want to be liked, respected, admired, loved, praised, noticed, etc. And these desires in that of themselves are not wrong or evil. But what happens when those desires are taken too far? They become idols. You might say “idols are just objects that people worship.” It’s easy to think of idols as a little Buddha statue with fruit around it or the Golden Calf or ancestor worship. But idols come in all different shapes and sizes and they aren’t always a physical material object. God commands in Exodus 20:2, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Idols, or gods, are anything or anyone we place in higher significance and importance than our Father God in heaven. Idols are anything we’re willing to sin for to get, anything we’re willing to stay in our sin for, anything that we’d fight tooth and nail to claim. Idols are anything we’d toot our own horn for or about – things we desperately want other people to notice and praise.
Do you have an idol of admiration in your life? How about the idol of praise? What about the idol of self-indulgence or personal time or control?
Tara Barthel from Peacemaker Ministries suggests these questions to ask yourself:
What pleasure will I not give up easily? How do you respond to disappointment related to it? If you could force someone to do one thing, what would it be? What am I willing to sin to get? To sin if I don’t get?
I challenge you to think about these questions seriously, to write them down and write your answers as seeing them on paper will make them more real.
Selfishness and Pride are Best Buddies
Too often selfishness accompanies pride. Selfishness is the output of pride.
James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy (pride manifested in “I want”) and selfish ambition, there you will find discord and every evil practice.“
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.“
If husbands and wives would seek to imitate Christ more often, I believe we’d have less quarrels in our marriages, less selfishness breeding in our hearts, and less divorces.
Proverbs 18:1 says, “An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.“
Ouch! You probably don’t want to be thought of as an unfriendly women or wife, as a person who pursues only herself, and doesn’t possess wisdom and sound judgment.
Proverbs 11:2 warns us, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.“
Are you getting the picture?
Look at the life of Christ. Christ led a life of humility and service. Philippians 2 continues onto say in verses 5-8, ” In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
1. Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
We were made in the image of God, ladies. We are to reflect godliness. The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But He follows this with love your neighbor as yourself. Our hearts (emotions and desires), soul (will), mind (thoughts and intentions), and strength (physical actions) need to be reflecting Christ, and this reflection of Christ needs to spill out in our relationships with others through love, unity, pursuit of peace, humility, and service.
Remember these verses:
Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” When you look in the mirror, what do you see? How you live reflects your heart. How you love (or don’t love) reflects your heart. 2 Corinthians 2:!5 says, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” We should aspire to smell beautiful, to reflect beautiful – to be like a beautiful rose covered with the fresh dew of God rather than a pile of garbage overflowing on the street.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I challenge you to spend time in Scripture asking God to reveal where you are struggling with having the same mindset as Christ.
2. Even though, you, as a wife, are your husband’s equal, remember that Christ being the equal of God didn’t use it to His advantage.
God created Eve to be Adam’s counterpart, to be his equal. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” BUT this does not mean that your husband isn’t in authority over you nor that you should take advantage of your equality. Don’t demand that your husband do something for you because you’re his equal. Don’t assume it’s okay to sin because you’re his equal and he’s sinning too. I struggle with this sometimes. I’m upset about something my husband has done and as I’m confronting him about it (in a not so loving way), I realize “opps! I’m doing the same thing.” Just because you’re an equal to your husband doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to sin, to be a hypocrite, or make demands.
Remember these verses:
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4).
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but a harsh word flares tempers.” (Proverbs 15:1)
3. Be a servant.
The life of a wife and a mother will often go unnoticed and un-praised. But did you sign up for adoration and praise for your achievements? No, you didn’t sign up at all. You chose to marry your husband, to love, honor, cherish, and respect him until death do you part. And you may not have chosen the timing of your children’s births, but you are called to love and serve them also. News flash: Being a wife and a mother is like having a behind the scenes job! I spent 4 years of my college career working for my college marching band as a band manager. It was our job as managers to put the band on the field, to serve their needs, and to make sure things ran smoothly behind the scenes. I wasn’t getting thanked after every practice; I didn’t get accolades after every game. And it was difficult work – we were often there long before band arrived and stayed until long after band left. But it was so rewarding because we got to see the benefits of our work even if no one else noticed. It was so rewarding to be apart of a team of people that were dedicated to serving and going above and beyond the call. It taught me so many wonderful lessons like servant leadership, teamwork, time management, and loving others, even the unlovable.
And God knew I’d need these lessons in marriage. All along He was preparing my heart for the workplace and for relationships with others, but also for my relationship with my husband.
Remember these verses:
John implores us, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth,” in 1 John 3:18. How do you know someone loves you? By the words they say? Partly yes. But more so by their actions.
Jesus tells us in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love your husband by serving him, by doing un-enjoyable tasks with cheer in your heart, by working hard to please him, by seeking to do the least of these things as Christ did so that you may honor your husband and glorify your Father in heaven.
4. Be humble.
Christ humbled himself and was obedient to the will of the Father even unto death. We are to humble ourselves, obediently following the will of our Father God in heaven just as Christ did, even to the point of giving up our lives for our faith. Whoa! That sounds heavy! I’m not sure, you may be saying. But remember the Son of God already gave up His life for you so that you may live. I challenge you to ponder on this question: Are you willing to die for your faith?
And while your husband will probably not ask you to die as a sign of your obedience, the point that you are to humble yourself and follow his guidance is critical. God has placed your husband in authority over you and as a wife, you are to humbly submit and serve him. This doesn’t mean allowing yourself to walked all over, to never have an opinion of your own, or to be your husband’s personal slave. For more of my thoughts on submission, read The Scary “S” Word and I Take Thee to Be My Husband… and then I’ll work under you, be your personal slave, and never have an opinion of my own.
Submitting means honestly, willingly, and cheerfully seeking to serve your husband (and others) with your whole heart because you love them and want the best for them and desire their healthy well-being.
Submitting means seeking to following your husband’s lead, and adhering to his guidance and wisdom.
Submitting means not taking over control when he fails, and forgiving his faults when he hurts you because you trust that God has got your husband in His hands and that He has placed this man in your life into this position of authority so that you may love, respect, honor, and serve him, but that he also may love, respect, honor, and serve you.
Remember these verses:
Read the Ephesians 5:22-33. God calls wives to submit to their husbands out of reverence for the Lord and as they submit to the Lord, but He calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her radiant, pure, holy, and blameless. That’s an incredible honor!
Bottom Line: While you’re going along the train tracks of marriage, instead of tooting your own horn, put off self and remember to: put on the mindset of Christ, not use your equality to your advantage, to cheerfully, lovingly, and willingly serve , and to submit humbly to the Lord and to your husband out of reverence and respect.
1. Jump on the Peace Train An introduction to the Peacemaking in Marriage Series – “Sometimes conflict is a good thing, but it’s never a God thing.”
2. When You’re Flying Downhill: Running Headfirst into Discord When desires quickly become idols and lead to discord