Are you one of the cool people in life, or one of the ones who alternately wants to be cool or resents the ones who are? You know who I’m talking about–the ones at the top of the social ladder in whatever circle it is you travel in–whether school or the real world. They’re usually the best dressed, most confident and most athletic; the ones who drive the nicest cars, live in the nicest homes, and have the best jobs–or their parents do. Yet these are the people who also frequently look down on others. Why is that? And why do some people you’d think would, not look down on others?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV)
When someone snubs you, the natural response is to assume they’re right and feel somewhat shaken in our sense of self or confidence, rather than try to understand why they said what they did–but it helps to recognize that unkindness or arrogance from others is more frequently a reflection of their own weakness than of ours. What do I mean? Simply that those who are confident in their own sense of self do not typically feel the need to belittle others.
Have you ever noticed the difference between how the owner of the company you work for speaks to you, and how your immediate supervisor does? You’d think the owner would be exponentially more arrogant than your supervisor, but frequently the truth is that the owner is unexpectedly down to earth and relatable, while your supervisor might take every opportunity possible to emphasize his or her superiority over you. Why is this?
Simply because the owner knows they’re the owner. There’s no doubt in his mind as to his position, and he’s secure enough to not feel threatened by you. Why would he be? He owns the company–you’re not going to take his job away from him. Your immediate supervisor, on the other hand, is in a different position. You might not realize it, but he probably understands that there is pitifully little difference between him and you, and consciously or not, feels the need to keep asserting his superiority over you. He is not particularly secure in his position.
It’s the same socially. Granted, some people are simply mean and enjoy harassing others merely for fun, but most people feel a subconscious need to emphasize their superiority only when they don’t actually feel that much superior. So how does knowing this help us? Simply that the next time someone makes you feel bad about yourself, don’t be so quick to assume they’re right and become deflated or defensive. Instead, recognize it’s not you; it’s them–yes, your clothes or car or whatever else might not measure up to their particular arbitrary standard, but what’s really going on is that they’re unintentionally revealing the fact that they’re insecure in who they themselves are and feel the need to artificially elevate their status by unfairly lowering yours. It really is them.
But we’ve all also known people who buck the system, who defy our expectations by not acting the way we expect them to–cool people who are actually also genuinely nice to others. Why aren’t they as arrogant to those beneath them as everyone else?
Again, it has to do with security in who you are–in being well grounded enough in your own sense of self so you don’t feel threatened by others. How do you get to be that way? By understanding well who you are and knowing it can’t be taken away from you.
Not everyone who is nice is a Christian, but I believe the strongest sense of self we can have isn’t actually rooted in ourselves, but in Jesus. Regardless of how good we are at something–how talented, how beautiful, how competent–there is always the risk, the possibility, that someone can show up who is better, or someone can get better–hence the petty jealousy and rivalries we frequently see. There’s never the assurance that if you’re at the top you’ll stay there–there’s always insecurity.
But if your sense of self, who you are, your identity, is rooted in Christ and the position you have with God through who He is–well, that’ll never change and no one can take it away from you. No one can take away or usurp your position as a child of God; as forgiven, loved and accepted by your Father in heaven. Who we are in Christ Jesus will never change; we are genuinely secure in Him.
That’s why it’s frequently the genuinely Christian people–not those who just say they’re Christian but who actually know they belong to Jesus and love Him with their whole heart–who are secure enough to step outside of themselves and reach out to others to show kindness and acceptance to people you wouldn’t think they would. They’re the kind of people who motivate others to want to be like them, because, well, God’s character is beautiful and good, and they constantly radiate it out to those around them.
So, are you one of the cool people–one of the many who find their deepest and truest identity in personal accomplishments and characteristics which can be bettered by others, in a position which can be taken away? Or is your sense of self–regardless of who you otherwise are or what your characteristics, abilities, and accomplishments are–rooted in the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for you so you would forever be accepted into God’s heart through Him?
Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
Thank You that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in You; that I was chosen in You before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in love; that I was predestined to adoption by the Father Himself through You; that I am fully loved and accepted by Him through You, His beloved. Amen!