If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)
I have played a few different sports over the years, and in that time I have inflated a number of balls. Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs. They all have the same thing in common – they should not be over inflated. Several things can happen and all of them are bad. Over inflation can stretch the ball out of round, cause leaks and weaken the seams, all of which make the balls useless for their respective sports. Imagine what overinflating can do to an ego.
God has designed us to work the right way. Just like a soccer ball is designed to cut through the air when it is kicked or thrown, we are designed to work a certain way. If we are over inflated, we won’t fly right. We will be off balance, wobbly and inaccurate. We can also be under inflated. We can fall flat and unresponsive. On the one hand we can have a view of ourselves that ignores our limitations. We see ourselves as better than we are and even worse, better than others. On the other hand, we can have a diminished view of what God has created us to be. We are blind to the abundant life He can produce in our lives. Somewhere there is humility that refuses pride but engages the fullness of life in Christ.
It is easy to get over or under inflated. In our culture of narcissism, over inflation seems to be the norm. We are even taught to talk ourselves up and say positive things about who we are, whether they are true or not. Plenty of the popular talk shows are based on the “You are Special” appeal to their audiences. They sell them on ideologies that don’t demand true change of character, only a change of perspective. You are a princess because you believe you are. Nonsense. There is a great gap between your belief defining the truth and the truth defining your belief.
It is just as easy to become under inflated. Pride breaks people, whether it is the proud one or the ones who got in their way. That brokenness can begin paterns of thinking that deny the image of God in His creation. It is this brokenness that allows people to go into self-destructive behavior, wrecking themselves and their relationships. Under inflated people get stuck, living flat and empty lives. This is not the abundant life God calls us to.
There is a level of inflation that puts in the right place with God and man. We are not full of ourselves, but what He has put in us. We understand this, so we have no desire to fill up on anything other than what He supplies. This gives us the ability to fly right and suffer the blows from the world without being punctured or falling flat. When God is at the heart of what we believe about ourselves we can understand our brokenness and the hope for wholeness with confidence, not arrogance or self-pity.
I pray that God helps me see when I am trying to over inflate. I hope that my friends and family will, in love and gentleness, point out when I am being full of myself instead of the God who loves me. I pray that God will guard me from losing air, limiting my expectation by my brokenness instead of His power to heal and renew. Lord help us be filled with you and nothing else. Amen.