Tuesday, July 22, 2014

With all due respect, Oprah...

The sleeve on my chai tea featured an Oprah Winfrey quote:  

"Be more splendid. Be more extraordinary.  Use every moment to fill yourself up."

I'm sorry, Oprah.  But, with all due respect, you've got it wrong. 

The self-esteem movement has yielded us a generation of young adults who have grown up believing that they are the best, most special, finest, smartest and strongest in the history of the world. Splendid? Extraordinary?  I think not.  And, by the way--maybe it's time to stop spending every moment filling ourselves up and start emptying ourselves out

The God who walked this earth didn't consider Himself "splendid".  He didn't encourage us to be more "extraordinary" and He most certainly didn't tell us to spend every moment to fill ourselves up.  So, sorry, Oprah.  I know you mean well, but, the truth is, lots of well meaning folk speak a lot of drivel. It sounds nice, but, it's dead wrong.

Chew on this…

"For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  Jesus, Luke14:11

Jesus reminded us that "without Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

We are not called to be splendid or extraordinary.  We are called to "have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called."  Eph 4:1 

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself." Phil 2:3

The goal, dear Oprah,  is not to be splendid. Not to be extraordinary. Not to puff ourselves up.  There's a whole lot of that all around us.  And, as your friend, Dr. Phil, might ask, "how's that working for ya?"

Some better advice might be found in Paul's letter to the Philippians.  The goal, he lays out is more about self-sacrifice than about self-love.  Less about grabbing all the gusto and more about pouring ourselves out as an offering of gratitude.  More about being a servant than being the center of the universe. Heck, he said it clearly-

"Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.  He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!  Having become human, he stayed human.  It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privilege Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless obedient death…Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever." (Phil. 2:7-9 The Message)

We are tempted day and night by the ways of this world. To be the best, to make the most, to attain fame, to be magnificent or splendid or extraordinary.  But, none of that comes by filling ourselves up, but, instead by being filled up by the Holy Spirit of a Holy God who fills us with His power, enabling us to step back and step down in order that He might be glorified.  

It's a battle to step back from it.  We are bombarded by those encouraging us to focus on ourselves.  It sounds good, but it's not right.  

My challenge?

Be more humble. Be more self-sacrificing. Use every moment to give yourself away.

Now that would be both splendid and extraordinary.  


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