Thinking about rights and bullies has started me inspecting my own life, and how often I help my children learn humility in this area. I think perhaps they do better than I do. In some areas, I think I’ve got this under control; in other areas, I think I could use more work. I’m most concerned how my example communicates to my children, but I’ve also been thinking about how they are able to give up their rights on their own. And I’m interested in understanding biblical reasons for using one’s rights, or even refusing to give them up at times. Lee suggested two passages:
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philipians 2:2-8)
This passage gives me good guidance on giving up my rights, but it doesn’t tell me when, if ever, I should insist on my rights. Lee’s suggestion was to consider the concept of stewardship, whether of my time, money, or testimony. His example was that some doctors have the attitude, “I’m the doctor; I shouldn’t have to take the time to swaddle a newborn baby.” That’s selfishly grasping at his rights. But sometimes, when the doctor is busy doing the things only a doctor can do, then it is appropriate to hand the baby to a nurse and ask her to swaddle him. In the second case, he’s using his rights in stewardship of his time. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 might be a good passage for meditation. I need to look up some more passages on stewardship before my thinking is done on this topic.
Stewardship would help explain why it might be appropriate to graciously point out a pricing error at the supermarket, but inappropriate to stiff a waitress who spilled a drink on our table. This might also explain why it would be appropriate to use my authority as mother to ask my children to serve the adults when we have company, but perhaps not so I can sit on my couch and eat bon bons while I read an exciting novel. When we grasp at our rights because of who we are, we are acting out of pride (contrary to Jesus’ example illustrated in Philipians 2). However, there are times when using our rights will help us obey God’s Word in some way.
Practically and specifically, what are some good ways and reasons to give up one’s rights?
- When guests come.
- When playing with unsaved children who do not know how to behave.
- When playing with younger children.
Good times NOT to give up one’s rights might include:
- When giving up one’s rights perpetuates sinful behavior in another person.
- When the other person is doing something wrong or sinful
Any more to add?