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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Okay, so I can't fly!

People boast a lot of things, don't they?  As we watch TV commercials galore, we can see products "boasting" the best eggs ever, the simplest TV hook-up in the world, and the best line-up of this or that.  Looking in the newspaper ads will riddle your minds with images of new products "boasting" something improved over anything you have ever used before, guaranteed to remove the stains from your clothes, whiten your teeth to a gleaming luster, and tantalize your taste buds with richness of flavor.  Man does a pretty good job of boasting about his accomplishments, the daring things he has done, and those "tales" no one can really validate because they took place in a day gone by or in a place unknown to you.  You might be intrigued to know the first definition of "boast" is to speak with exaggeration and excessive pride, especially about oneself!  This leads us to conclude the basis of boasting is pride - an excessive and exaggerated estimation of oneself, the object of your attention, or the accomplishment at hand.

What people say about themselves means nothing. What counts is whether the Lord says they have done well. (2 Corinthians 10:18 ERV)

There are lots of ways we engage in this boasting tendency, but none so dangerous as that which goes "unchecked" by either our own conscience, the niggling of the Holy Spirit's prompts, or just plain common sense.  As a small child, I boasted of flying - not in an airplane - but by the use of my "wings" (better known as my arms) and the lift I realized when "sailing" off the top of an overturned trash can!  No one could have told me differently because I was so caught up in the imaginative, yet concocted story I had told myself that I believed it was true!  Now, lest you lock me up in some padded room somewhere, I didn't stick with that story for very long, but the couple of weeks I actually believed I had flown was time enough for me to have told every kid in the neighborhood and then had them trying it from the tops of their own overturned trash cans!  When they couldn't reach those "heights" I had "realized" in my imagination, I suspected they were just too heavy, or didn't have the "wings" to fly!  Nothing inside of me actually believed my "story" was all wrong.  It took being challenged to prove it to make me realize my acquired claim to fame wasn't actually "spot on"!

Some of us need to have our "boasting" challenged once in a while - to keep us honest, bring us down to earth, or just plain help us see where pride has taken hold in us.  Some would ask why my acclaimed "flying ability" had to be challenged, since imagination in a child isn't all that uncommon and eventually the child moves on to some other imaginative thought.  Well, I had boasted so loudly, confidently, and kind of meanly to the kids in my neighborhood about my "abilities", I probably needed to be brought down to earth (no pun intended).  If no one challenged me then, and many times about other things since then, no telling what the estimation of my abilities would be today in my own mind.  Our mind often has to be "brought down to earth" - made to meet reality.  As long as it is allowed to concoct all manner of untruth, trumped up stories of grandeur, it will.  When encountered with the reality of where the rubber meets the road, the character of a man or woman is often revealed for what is really there.

This is why it is best to have a friend or two who helps you see when you are thinking a little too much about yourself and forgetting the needs of others.  It is also important to recognize how much that relationship keeps you real in those moments when you imagine yourself capable of doing things way outside of your realm of safety and protection.  Grand thoughts lead to some pretty damaging actions - so this kind of accountability relationship actually helps to reflect back to us "truth" or "reality" instead of the exaggerated estimation we have of ourselves, our own abilities, or the situation at hand.  There are times we need another to help us recognize when our estimation of the circumstances or our ability far exceed what God sees - because it brings us down to earth again and gets us to focus on what might actually bring us closer to what God wants for us.  God's opinion of both the matter at hand and our involvement in that matter are what is important - not how well we think we can handle it, what it will do for our reputation if we pursue it, or the things which we "gain" because we pursue it.  There are indeed times when the best thing for us is to be "knocked down a few pegs" in order to see ourselves again in the "less exaggerated" reality of the moment.  What matters is how God sees us - not how the circumstance will help us be seen in the eyes of another.  Just sayin!