“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV 1984)
Guns were loaded. Places taken. The showdown had begun. Her at one end of the table; me at the other. My plate a smoking gun; lima beans my bullets.
I wish I could say I was a two-year-old toddler, throwing a tantrum. Instead, I’m embarrassed to admit I was a 25-year-old adult, sticking it to my then-boyfriend’s mom; a woman I couldn’t stand. Neither of us was backing down. Meeting her stealthy gaze, I methodically slid one lima bean after another to the side of my plate. I would not take one bite of her potpie until it was clear of the offending veggies.
Oh, it’s not that I dislike lima beans. On the contrary. What I didn’t like was her.
Her, my boyfriend’s mother. Clinging tightly to her matronly apron strings. Sitting at the head of his table. Wedging herself between us. Serving his favorite meal.
Me, her son’s girlfriend. Building bonds. Sitting by his side. Finding my place between mother and son. Resenting her home-cooked food.
My own mother’s voice grew loud in my head with each lima bean I pushed aside. I could just hear her reprimand: it doesn’t matter what she’s done, you eat the limas, Sam. I held my challenger’s stare as I flicked another bean and ignored what I knew my mom would say: put down your disdain and put her above yourself, Samantha.
With determined purpose, I jabbed the last lima. Without a word I said it all: I will not honor your meal … your feelings … you. My mom’s voice shook my inner core. Humility, Samantha Elaine!!
After dishes were washed and guns put away, another voice resonated. I sensed the Lord speak gently, yet firmly. Why did you feel the need to battle your pride, and her, in having to be number one in your boyfriend’s life? This would have been the perfect opportunity to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
I was ready with my rebuttal. She’s controlling and invasive. She doesn’t respect me or my relationship with her son. She’s impossible to get along with, much less honor. I don’t like her!
As far as I was concerned, she was the enemy, and it was my duty to draw the battle lines. Yet I knew my actions should not be determined by hers. After all, she had worked hard on that dinner. She was my boyfriend’s mom. And most importantly, she was my sister in Christ.
I knew God called me to be humble toward her. Not only that, but to go above-by eating (all) of her meal, and beyond-by complimenting her dish (it actually was tasty). It would have been a small thing, but it would have been the right thing … and the God thing.
Though my relationship with my boyfriend has since ended, my relationship with humility continues to grow. It may be through watching a television show that bores me but my friend enjoys it. Or speaking kindly when I’m frustrated, praying for someone who has offended me or taking a back seat when I want to be first.
When my finger is on the trigger of my pride, I keep in mind that by being humble, I’m obeying God, which ultimately honors Him. This truth gives me the grace I need to tuck my guns away and ask, “May I please have seconds?”
Dear Lord, thanks for being the best example of humility and honor. Please give me the grace to honor others, especially those who I find hard to respect. Thanks for Your Word that reminds me to put others first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Do You Know Jesus?
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Reflect and Respond:
Who do you struggle to be humble toward? Why?
Pray about having an honest conversation with that person. If you’re not able to, determine now how you will react in a honoring manner the next time you interact.
Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)
Colossians 3:12-13a, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another …” (ESV)