Hello Hump Day friends! Well, we got through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, many hours of football games, too much delicious food, and, what I hope for all of you, was a wonderful holiday with friends and family and most of all, a grateful heart that thanked God for it all.
A few days before I wrote this devotion, I encountered a person who was so filled with themselves that their ego oozed out of every part of their body. I was in a group speaking to this person and I just couldn’t get out quick enough. Once I found the exit, the person cackled saying “just get be around someone who is smarter than you, little lady.” It took every ounce of my being to not turn back and smack the idiot; however, another person did it for me and I admit, I chuckled as I walked down another aisle hoping to not encounter this bombastic idiot.
The other day I read a story from 1986 that took place off the coast of Russia. There were two ships in the Black Sea boring down toward the coast to dock and sadly, they collided. Hundreds of passengers were killed, many thrown into the icy waters to a horrible death. But the story gets worse! This wasn’t about weather, the common heavy fog in the area, or any of the crews of each ship not doing their job. It was human ego…and it was embedded in both of the Captains of the ships! They were fully aware of each ship’s presence but they made no maneuvers to “steer clear” and literally they refused to give way to one another. That old Navy acronym: s.h.i.t. which means “ship high in water” was forgotten and by the time these two egomaniacs came to their senses they no longer could change course. One sailor on board remembers one captain saying over the com, “Don’t worry, we will pass clear of each other. We will take care of everything because you obviously don’t know what you are doing.” Another midshipman on the receiving end of these words said “perhaps it is you do not know what you are doing!” Within 10 minutes, well over 500+ people were dead and many close to dying.
When I read this story, I just thought of my encounter with the ego-crazy person and many other encounters where selfishness and ego lead to destruction. Many egomaniac dictators came to mind, including many in our politics, churches, and corporations, who would rather be dictators than leaders. When we have an ego big enough to sink a ship or wipe out an ethnicity we hate, what does that tell others about us? It’s more than selfishness or self-centeredness; this kind of ego can leave in its wake emotional and relational scars that can linger for years—even a lifetime.
I describe EGO this way: E-edging G-God O-out. There is no room for ego in the life of a child of God, ever! No wonder Jesus spoke about love—loving yourself, loving your neighbor and the toughest one—loving your enemies. As children of God we have a command and a responsibility of loving others—no matter their faith or no faith, color of skin, etc. How can we follow this command if our own egos are greater than our love for other people? Now we are edging God out and do you really think God takes it lightly if you want to take his place!
In Proverbs 16:18 [ERV] we read: “Pride is the first step toward destruction. Proud thoughts will lead you to defeat.”
In Mark 12:30-31 [GW] we hear Jesus say: “So love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Well, now we have our marching orders indeed!
EGO not only means edging God out, but it also means edging out goodness. If we have a huge ego we aren’t looking out for the good because, heck—we’re the good one, right? In a society that seems to promote egotism, it’s easy to fall into step with this attitude. We lose our humility and sadly we can also lose friends and family. No doubt our faith in God wanes as we want to become the “top dog.”
So, let’s be careful. Let’s watch our egos and humble ourselves before the Lord and live in that humility so we can put other people first. After all, that’s what it really means to love others as yourself! AMEN.