There is perhaps no greater example of arrogance on TV than the character of Charles Emerson Winchester – the THIRD from M*A*S*H. (Did you read that name in his voice.) If you read that name and felt like the name itself dripped with arrogance, you caught the characterization. In one of the episodes, Winchester is trying to figure out how to deal with a patient. The nurse suggests a treatment. Winchester, miffed that a mere nurse would dare to suggest a treatment to him sniffs at the suggestion, and the nurse. The nurse then explains that he worked with a doctor who specialized in these operations back in the states. Winchester, recognizing the name of the doctor, gives in, partially, when he looks at the nurse and says, “I have an idea, why don’t we do this treatment?” (not an exact quote.) The nurse, recognizing Winchester’s ego, lets him know that it’s an excellent idea.
Arrogance, shown as contempt for others, is a terrible thing. If you’ve ever been around someone like that, and who hasn’t, you realize that their goal in life is to make you feel as small as possible. Whatever you do is wrong; whatever they do is right. If they do something wrong, they blame you. They would rather be the top pig in a mud puddle than be the second eagle soaring above the trees. The attitude comes from a lack of respect for others. The idea of arrogance is mentioned over 200 times in the Bible, and is detested by God in those passages. Paul gave a recipe for overcoming arrogance in his letter to Timothy. “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2 NIV)
How do we treat others? Paul made it clear in this passage. Rather than letting an older man know how wrong he is. Encourage him to do right. I find that admonition very comforting as I get into that age that Paul would describe as older. It’s easy to believe that older people don’t understand what’s going on. Then, when they say something, it’s even easier to ridicule them for being wrong, for being old-fashioned. I talked with someone older than me, yes, my children, they exist, and they were confused by the word “text.” They don’t use a cell phone. How easy would it be to make fun of them? Paul reminds us that instead of ridicule, we are to encourage. We are to respect those younger than us. Sometimes, their ideas, as inexperienced as they may be, have merit. Us older folks can listen and learn. And, in words that are timely in our world today, we are to treat others with absolute purity.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is a garbage man or a university president.” As great a man as he was, he understood humility and respect. So many of the sexual scandals that we read about today come about because powerful people not only didn’t respect those they abused, they saw them as playthings meant to satisfy their desires. It’s a very true statement that many of our problems stem from the fact that we use people and love things, instead of loving people and using things. God calls us to love each other. God calls us to exhort, to encourage each other. God calls us to treat others with complete purity. I know it’s not hip, or fashionable to make those statements. We live in a new age when it seems like the old ways of respect and concern for others are ridiculed for being old-fashioned. When we see the lives of those who are broken because they haven’t been treated with the respect God calls for; when we see those who have lived arrogantly isolated from the world, we should realize that God’s ways are still best. And we need to show them God’s love.
Father, in a world that “looks out for number one” help me to keep You as number one in all I do.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.