Humility: The Balloon Stomp Game
BY AL EARLEY
I think one of the most highly valued character traits listed in the Bible is humility. The Bible is consistent in proclaiming if you are arrogant or prideful there are many bad consequences. If you are humble before the Lord you earn the highest praise from God, and our humility opens doors in our lives for God to use us. However, the Bible does not have a lot of information about what humility is. We think we know it when we see it. So, as you read the following story think about what it teaches about humility.
Robert Roberts writes about a fourth-grade class in which the teacher introduced a game called “balloon stomp.” A balloon was tied to every child’s leg, and the object of the game was to pop everyone else’s balloon while protecting one’s own. The last person with an intact balloon would win.
The first class played with vigor. Balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. The entire battle was over in a matter of seconds, leaving only one balloon inflated. Some feelings were hurt as the owner strutted around the room. In order to win this game, you have to be pushy, rude, and aggressive.
A second class was asked to play the game, only this class was made up of mentally handicapped children, and the game proceeded very differently. The one idea that these children understood was that the balloons were to be popped. So, it was the balloons, not the other players, that were viewed as enemies. Instead of fighting each other, they began helping each other pop balloons. One little girl knelt down, and held her balloon carefully in place, like a holder for a field goal kicker. One by one each child held their balloon for another child to pop, all the children squealing in joy with each balloon being popped. In the end, everybody won.
I always liked playing balloon stomp. I had quick feet, and enjoyed taking out my aggressions on other’s balloons. I never thought of playing the game like the second class did. And that is one of the key elements to understanding humility. In Paul’s “Hymn of Humility” in Philippians 2 we read, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage…”
Christ is the model for humility, and we are not to try to compete with God. The second class exhibited Christ-like behavior: love for one another, working together as a group, mutually submitted to each other. We can learn from this that humility doesn’t have anything to do with comparing ourselves to others, and everything to do with our relationship with God. We also read in Romans 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment (humility), in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Everything we have been given is given to us by God, therefore we have no reason to boast, unless we are boasting in the Lord (II Cor. 10:17). It is not easy to make an accurate self-assessment of ourselves so that we can accurately understand what God wants to do in our lives through the faith He has given us.
Look again at the story of the children playing balloon stomp. Which group did you relate to more? Can you imagine yourself being the first one holding the balloon for another to stomp, and cheering with glee? Can you imagine how it would change the game if you had done it first? Can you imagine being humbled when no one followed suit, and just played the aggressive version of balloon stomp, ridiculing you for your choice? Can you imagine not caring what others think, and giving God the glory because He helped you think outside the box, and use you as an example that would help others feel secure who didn’t like the aggressive version of balloon stomp? Humility is a hard thing to define. People can see it in us when we are not focused on ourselves, and learn more and more how to completely focus on God. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.)
Article Excerpted from: Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 2006) Edited by Marcia Hopp, Our Savior Lutheran... read more