1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)
Philippians 2:4 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV)
"Just use your GPS!" my cousin advised after I had asked her for a city map. I needed a map to find a friend's house; but she didn't have one. I felt rather foolish after hearing her suggestion. How silly of me to resort to the old-fashioned method — a fold-up map! Furthermore, how silly of me to need my cousin to mention the GPS, which I had borrowed from my husband's car for the weekend.
My cousin and I had a good laugh; but still, I felt a letdown over my mindlessness. I left her house feeling a tad humiliated. But once I got over my self-absorbed mood, I remembered that those "silly" oversights are often God-ordained moments.
The distress of humiliation is not necessarily bad for us — quite the opposite. It can mean that our pride has been affronted, bursting our idolatrous penchant for self-mastery and independence. It restores our sense of finitude and neediness. And much more:
God may want to bless someone else through our lapses. These are opportunities for another to give, and for us to receive — such as a word of correction or wisdom. This allows them to have the joy of ministering to us. They are encouraged by knowing that they matter, that they have something to offer. In other words, our unplanned flubs are opportunities to build others up through our receiving from them. It's a two-way kind of love by which we "encourage one another and build each other up".
To be sure, in my life, there's been no lack of occasions for another to be built up through my "silly" oversights. The other person may have been a child, student, friend, or someone else. Yet, I've often been slow to see the potential benefits for them. I'd get overly preoccupied with myself, and think, How could I have been so absent-minded! I knew that! How did I miss the obvious! That's pride getting in the way!
Pride keeps us self-absorbed, causing us to focus more on our own interests than on the interests of others. It takes humility to see others blessed through our foibles. It requires us to sacrifice our need to be right, to explain or defend ourselves — or to whack ourselves on the head. In other words, it requires us to set aside ourselves and consider the interests of another — most specifically, their need to be built up. That can happen when, instead of drawing the focus to ourselves, we offer the other a simple expression of gratitude, such as, "Thank you, I appreciate that." In turn, we are blessed together, blessed by each other.
Prayer: Heavenly Guide, help us to view our unplanned lapses as recalculations in our journey of faith — as occasions to humble ourselves and receive from another. May we learn to be truly appreciative of those who minister to us through their little offerings of love. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "We're Marching To Zion" (Lyrics)