When was the last time you analyzed the way that other people perceive you? You know, have you put yourself in their side of your conversations, Facebook posts and Tweets? Over the years, I’ve noticed that this is something that I do somewhat naturally. It’s probably because my Mom raised me to always be considerate of others. When I would strive for something that was inconvenient to other people, she would take the time to discuss that with me in a loving way. This is something that I value about my Mom more and more the older I get.
But one thing I’ve noticed in recent months is that, just because I typically do these things automatically, I have certainly not mastered them. It is for this reason that I have begun to make it a priority to re-assess myself in these things (devoting time to the Book of Proverbs has had a big part to play in that revelation as well I’m sure.) Let me just take a little time to share some things I’ve been stewing about in regards to all three of these heart issues.
Flattery: Flattery is something that I wrestle with. On one hand, I feel like people who love Jesus should also be encouragers. They should strive to be people who make the people around them better by building them up and helping them… even if it’s just in a very small way. On the other hand, encouragement almost always sounds exactly the same as flattery on the outside. The only difference between these two things is the motive of the person who is doing the talking. Are you encouraging because you want to see that person in a better position or because you want to be in a better position? Something to think about…
Bragging: This one comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s easy to spot the people who do this all the time, but what about the rest of us? Quite honestly, just about anything we tell people about out of excitement can be perceived as bragging. Let’s face it: when we share an accomplishment with others, we do it because we are proud & want others to share in that excitement with us. I really don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with doing that, but I do think it is a good thing to remember that sometimes it can be perceived as bragging. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share those things, but I do think we should be sensitive about how we share them and what environments we choose to share them in.
Jealousy: Jealousy is sort of the reason why I struggle with sharing excitement about things I’ve accomplished. I don’t like to breed jealousy. I don’t want to be the person responsible for doing that. At the same time, I’ve had periods in my life where I struggled with jealousy quite a bit. It’s weird because you’d think those would be times where I lacked the most, but it was actually the times where I had the most to lose. I’ve noticed that jealousy and selfishness seem to hang out together like best friends.
I used to have a very selfish view of Christianity. Turning away from that view may have something to do with why I analyze these things the way I do. Because I don’t yet know exactly where I fit in, but I do know exactly what I don’t want to be again.
So there you have it… a little knowledge on flattery, bragging and jealousy. It’s probably not the best way to view these things, but I do think you could probably do worse. And I do hope that, if anything, it inspired you to dig into these things just a little bit in your own life.