My New Year’s Resolution this year is taken from I Corinthians 13:4-7. In a nutshell, it is to become a little more charitable this year. I am studying and trying to practice one of the manifestations of charity listed in Paul’s passage each month. This month, the focus is on charity “vaunting not itself” and not being “puffed up”. I write each Saturday about this resolution on my personal blog, and I want to share something with all of you that hit me as I was preparing to write my post for last Saturday.
From my post two weeks ago about the attitude behind vaunting and being puffed up:
If someone lacks charity, it’s not necessarily that he believes “they are worse than I am” – but rather that he believes “I am better than they are”. That is an important distinction, subtle though it be.
It is critical – absolutely important – to understand how the statment that “charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” applies within one’s own self in order to become more charitable in this regard. This is not easy, and it is not natural. This is true of almost everyone, but it is most difficult for those who are convinced of their own, personal faith perspective – both those who struggle with their faith community and those who are solidly established within it.
BOTH of these groups of people are characterized generally by a feeling of superiority when it comes to their understanding of Truth – and spirituality – and sociality – and leadership – and all other things religious (including Mormon). In practical terms, when we view ourselves as understanding the Gospel better than “those other members” AND think that they all would be better off if they simply were as enlightened as we are – at that moment we are being “puffed up” – and, in public groups (online or at church), that often leads to “vaunting itself” above others.
Bragging and boasting don’t have to be blatant and obvious. They can be subtle and encrypted – and I see it naturally both in those who are in the throes of bitterness and those in the entrenchment of an accepted mainstream.
If anyone wants an eye-opening experience, think about this distinction and definition as you go back and re-read your own comments here and in any online discussion groups where you have participated and/or continue to participate. (Also, think seriously about how you contribute to group discussions of other kinds – in any setting, but espeically at church.) See how many of your comments have either a subtle or obvious element of “vauntiness” or “puffiness”. Most of us have a long way to go in that regard, and it’s hard to see how far unless you are looking consciously for it. It also is hard to eradicate unless you are working consciously to do so.