Reflection 15 Prejudice: Placing Ourselves Higher than Others

Reflection 15: Prejudice

 

Prejudice: Placing Ourselves Higher Than Others

 

Luke 18:9-14 “Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NLT)

Definitions: How many of us stop to think about the differences between the terms “pride, prejudice, discrimination, racism, and stereotyping”? Oftentimes many of us use the words interchangeably during casual discussions but for the purposes of this reflection, let’s stop and briefly examine the nuances between the terms. Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed without knowledge or reason and is in the mind whereas discrimination is acting on that prejudice thought. Racism is hatred or intolerance focused on a select race of people groups. Stereotyping is to define a partially or untrue idea about all people together as a group based on their certain beliefs (blondes are dumb).[1] More specifically, prejudice means to “pre-judge” people before gathering proper facts that would help us avoid discrimination, racism and stereotyping.

Prejudice is not only what is commonly known to be against such as age, disability, gender, race and religion but it also includes appearance, education, group membership, intelligence, marital status, occupation, personal habits and social class. How many times have we caught ourselves favoring the better-looking person, or the one with the highest level of occupation? Are we consciously or subconsciously impacted with someone with the title “Doctor, Fighter Pilot, CEO etc.” or with someone who fits the “Barbie and Ken” fantasy attractions no matter what race? Depending on our experience, we seem to love or disdain what is commonly considered as “impressive” or “better than the average”. God’s Word speaks against such favoritism or “un-favoritism” in James 2:9, which states that when we show favoritism we sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

Part of our sinful nature includes a false sense of pride and it is the sin of pride that we find working in much of our prejudices. We find it very tempting to exalt ourselves in order to be thought well of or accomplished or better than the normal person. This is a sin that must be dealt with within ourselves and with God’s Spirit in us; but when we shoot harmful arrows at others (either in our thoughts or vocally), categorizing them as less than ourselves we will reap God’s judgment (Matthew 7:1-5).[2]  Perhaps we think that God will never deal with us, as He has to deal with others because we feel our prejudices not so bad. But this is our old nature and God accepts nothing of our old life. He is removing from us everything of our old life and it is part of our growth in Christ to see that our prejudices are put to death by becoming more Christ like. The Holy Spirit will begin to bring a new creation in us and when that happens, our attitude toward all things will be of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).[3] People who keep prejudice alive in their thoughts and heart are kept from seeing the God-given value in other people and relationships.

How, then are we to grow more like Christ and put to death our thoughts of prejudice? The answer to this type of question is always looking to God’s Word and with the help of a concordance we can find all the passages in God’s Word that contains prejudice; but the following ideas of what to do in addition to that may be of help in a more specific manner.

  1. Make the intentional choice to choose to respond to everyone with the love of Christ in us because with Christ in us we can choose to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3-4). Be willing to put aside our old nature in us, our sinful condition and be willing to learn to accept different cultures.
  2. Acknowledge our need to be forgiven as well as our need to forgive others. Accept God’s grace allows us to give grace to others, accepting God’s forgiveness allows us to forgive others and be more patient and kind (Colossians 3:13).
  3. Pray that God will convict our thoughts before we finish them and to reveal to us our own sin (Matthew 7:1-5). Pray that He will reveal to us knowledge we need in order to make godly changes. Keep a prayer journal and pray for others on the list; add more as we go through our days. Praying for others at the beginning and closing of our day helps keep our focus off from ourselves an on to others which is the beginning of a life obedient to God.
  4. Learn that prejudice is not based on fact or knowledge but on fear and is a result of emotions not proper reasoning. This goes back to training our mind to turn from stinking thinking to godly thinking and we do this by reading and hearing His Word in order to discern from evil thoughts (1 John 2:9-11). We can also learn by basic Internet searches for definitions, and ways to help others.
  5. Do good things for others and become involved in helping others who need someone in order to make their lives better or tolerable. Doing this kind of help in a culture that is different will bring significant changes in our thinking and attitudes (Mark 10:45). Befriend others from different areas of life from our own.
  6. Obey the Spirit of God in us because it is through Christ that we can do all things and it is with Christ that we can choose to live a godly life.

When we turn our lives over to Christ and give Him permission to convict us, we can choose to listen or not listen to His Spirit. Ultimately, He will keep giving us the same tests with similar situations until we get it right. If we find ourselves in the habit of judging others we may find it difficult to overcome judging until we intentionally let go of our pride-rooted desire for approval and being better or best. It takes intention, work and developing new habits in order to change our thinking patterns, but when we submit to Christ, we can do all things through Him who will strengthen us to overcome our fleshly old sinful nature that must be placed aside in order to live a fully Christ-like life and servicing others more than ourselves for the ultimate Christian joy. It begins with a prayer and the true desire to make that change.

Questions for Reflection:

Prayerfully consider the following verses and write in your own words what they mean to you and how they may have penetrated your life in some way. Take some quiet time and reflect on your life during the past few months. What were the effects and were there any issues that stemmed from your written answer above?

  1. Philippians 2:3-4Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.” (NLT)
  2. Romans 12:16Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” (NLT)

Prayerfully journal how can you see the root of pride in judging others and how does the sin of pride sometimes make you feel better than others? Did you enjoy feeling better? Why or why not? How can this reflection help you turn to live more Christ-like? Try to do this same effort every day for a week without reading what you previously wrote, then at the end of the week read them all at once. What truths do you see in your life?

Professor Prompts:

– interacting with various social, economical and racial groups –this portion is still in work.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/___.com

[2] Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

[3] This statement was pulled from Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest”, on the page identified as October 23.

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