Richard was a man I worked with long ago. He was a family man, and he was a Christian. He was an extremely diligent employee. He was also a tad arrogant. Not sure that is the right word - I guess he wasn’t really arrogant; he was a quiet man, and he never really called attention to himself. I guess I hate to call him “prideful”, but in reality, I think pride is what it was that bothered me the most about Richard. You know the type: the ones that are prideful of their supposed humility; prideful of their Christian walk; prideful of their knowledge. I know we have all come into contact with them from time to time… the kind of people that are so proud of where they stand in their Christian faith, that it is almost a stench in the nostrils of those around them. I’m sorry, I understand that sounds harsh; but surely we all have experienced these types of people – probably we have even been that way ourselves at times. One thing is for sure, those that are vain in their knowledge, (or self-perceived knowledge) of the Bible, and boast in themselves, rather than boasting in the Gospel of Jesus as Scripture tells us, are simply no fun to be around. Sometimes, these days, (though I’m sure it has always been so) the church just seems to be full of them.
Ok, that’s the yucky part. The funny part is how accurately the above quote related to my past place of employment. The factory where I worked was located in a highly congested area, and it was not the most pleasant of environments. Needless to say, when quitting time came, people wanted out of there just as fast they could get out. If one wasted too much time, one would only be prolonging their wait in traffic on the highway in front of the building. People literally ran from that building at quitting time, and though I hate to admit it, I was one of them.
On this particular day, I was making my mad dash, and there was Richard in the parking lot with the hood up on his car. He usually always beat me out of the building, but not on this day. He was understandably frustrated and a bit agitated – after all, who wouldn’t be; his car wouldn’t start. When he looked up and saw me, his sour look suddenly turned to a care-free smile. I knew it wasn’t sincere; the newly-found smile was merely for my benefit. Actually it was for his benefit; Richard didn’t want another Christian to see him in a state when he wasn’t “rejoicing”.
“Praise the Lord!” he exclaimed with a big smile as I approached him. “God is good all the time!”
“Do you need some help, Richard?” and as I asked, I really did try not to sound disgusted at his comments, because I was really thinking: WHATEVER!!
I don’t mean for that to sound disrespectful of our Lord and His teachings. I really don’t. We are to rejoice in all things and God IS good all the time. But sometimes I just grow so weary of Christians performing for other Christians. I’m sure we have all done it. We put on our best face for Sunday morning, or while in the presence of others of like faith. Sometimes we smile, when we really want to cry! We answer, “I’m fine; doing just great”, when we really want to say, “I’m not doing so well, today.” Why can’t we simply share our true feelings with other Christians?
I wanted to say to Richard, “It’s ok; I get discouraged, too. I’ve been known to throw a wrench, or two, in my day. It doesn’t matter what I saw. I do it, too!” But I said nothing; I simply played along.
Richard had a sincere desire to witness, to share his faith and bring others to the Lord. But I always wondered; why in the world did he have to seem so arrogant about it.
A good friend of mine that also worked with us at the time was raised as a Catholic. She had a new found faith, and born again experience. She attended church with me often and was really enjoying it. It wasn’t long before Richard found out; but he also knew she still attended her Catholic home church, as well.
Richard stopped me in the hall one afternoon. “Jan, I gave Brenda a book about Catholicism. I want her to know how wrong it is. I really felt the Lord prompted me to do it.”
“Yes, I know, Richard. Brenda told me about it. She told me she read just a few chapters before she threw it across the room.”
Yeah, I really did tell him that, because it was the truth…I don’t know, maybe the Lord “prompted” me to tell him. Do you think? Richard stormed off; though I’m sure I said it more kindly than it sounds here…or not.
I don’t know; I just think we have to be careful of acting like some how we are more holy; we know more; or like we somehow have a better “in” with God. We definitely shouldn’t boast in the things that we do; and we certainly can’t boast of our righteousness – it is as filthy rags. It is only because of what Jesus did for us…I think we have to be careful when we are proud of what we do for Him.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith;…not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2: 8- 9
Richard was always difficult for me to be around. Though we were brother and sister in Christ, we were only co-workers, never friends. I think of him often; usually when I see that specific attitude. It still bothers me, and I don’t think I handle it any differently now, than I did back then. I may think about it differently. Sometimes now, I question myself, “What am I doing that causes that person to feel he has to behave that way in front of me?” Or: “Why can’t she just be herself? Why can’t I be myself? Why must your gifts be mine? Do we remember from where we came?”
There is nothing wrong with trying to improve our behavior, and trying to do that which we believe is right. We are to strive to become more Christ-like, but we shouldn’t do it just because some one else is watching. There is always One watching. And that is most important of all. But also, why should we be prideful? We all came from the same condition, that same place – sin. Because of that, there should be no place for this type of pride.
All these years later, I am almost certain that Richard doesn’t carry that trait anymore. He was as faithful and diligent in his Christianity as he was in his work. I am quite certain it was the exuberance of youth and his excitement at what he believed that caused him to come across the way he did. Thirty years later, he has surely grown, and understood, and mellowed, as we all do with age. I have no idea where he is, I no longer remember his last name, or anything about him, but I bet I will see him in Heaven some day. Maybe I will have a chance to say “I’m sorry” for telling him Brenda threw his book across the room! And I am quite certain Richard, Brenda, and I will have a good laugh together about the dead coming back to life.
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6: 14