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The more a monkey climbs, the more he shows his backside! (2)

July 7, 2018

There’s a memorable Yorkshire saying that I’ve used here before, “The more a monkey climbs, the more he shows his backside;” or words to that effect. The more someone climbs the social ladder, the more they tend to show the parts of them that they are least proud of. We’ve all met someone like that: Swaggering around, telling everyone how important their job is, how big their car is, and as to their house… which one?

Now, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with people making a success of their life, but the sad fact is that success can often bring out the worst in them. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen good decent people twisted by their success, or accident of birth. They became arrogant and ‘stuck-up,’ snootily looking down on those they had ‘risen above’ or had been born to be ‘better than’ the rest. They never seemed to realise that all they were doing was showing their backside; showing how much they were inferior as people; showing the very worst of themselves.

Sadly, the harm of that sort of boasting spreads out. Those being looked down upon often start to develop a pride in their poverty or lack of education and an inverted snobbery grows, just as poisonous as the pride that caused it.

Paul was faced with something very similar in his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12.2-10). A group of Christians seem to have turned up at the church that he founded. They are boasting about how important they are and saying that Paul is an imposter.

Paul makes it clear that he could boast about how important he is, just as well as these others, better even. Paul is clearly upset by what is happening to his church in Corinth, but he also spots the danger that he is in. So instead of telling them about all the great things that he has done and about how important he is in the church; how he was sent out by Peter himself, and much more. No, instead of that he does something completely different. Paul reminds them that they can trust him, because… well because they know him. They have met him and they just need to remember what they saw and heard from him when he was in Corinth. He reminds them he was humble with them when he was with them. He helps them to remember for themselves that before they were deceived, they loved him, and that he loves them.

Hoping that they are now listening to him again, Paul now tells them why it is so important not to boast. He shares with them how he has been kept humble by an illness or by persecution, so that he never gets above himself. He says that he is made weak, so that God can do more through him. He reminds them that if God made them then how can they possible boast about anything, except God’s love?

What a lesson! I have nothing to boast about, except in God who he has made me to be me, and in what he is doing. It is a lesson that I take to heart, but it is also a lesson I have to relearn every day. My qualifications and my various titles as a minister; I could boast in them, but I would just be showing my backside. Only God is great, and all of these are for him to give or take away. I have no power to stop him either way, so how can I boast, except in the love of God that I have known and shared?

The more a monkey climbs, the more he shows his backside.”

How much am I showing to those looking up?..     How much are you?

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