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Pointers along the way #103

The bridegroom and the best man
- Jacob Ninan

There was a time when the disciples of John the Baptist were upset because Jesus whom John had baptised was also baptising people (Jn.3:26). The way John responded shows us the greatness of the man as well a guideline for our own behaviour. John said that Jesus was like a bridegroom and he himself was only like the best man at the wedding. The person who should be in the limelight was the bridegroom and not the best man. The best man's desire should be to ensure that the bridegroom received his prominence at the wedding and that everything went smoothly for him (v.27-30). It was not an occasion for the best man to "shine".

We all have a desire in our flesh to shine in front of others. Right from birth we have this tendency to want to draw attention to ourselves. But we have many occasions in life when it is our responsibility to ensure that someone else gets the prominence and not us. We are tempted to jump in and do something to get the attention, even momentarily. Sometimes people butt in and try to point out some mistake in the prominent person in order to demonstrate how they themselves are cleverer. Smart alecs who ask the teacher questions just to embarrass him are like this.

This is where we need to recognise who we are in relation to the person who has the prominence at the moment. For example if we are with our boss we must remember that we are not the boss and we must be careful not to behave in such a way as to put him down in front of others. If we are not the leaders of the church or responsible for some activity, we need to recognise our smaller position and submit to what God has arranged.

If the best man notices that the bridegroom's tie is gone out of place, for example, he has to let the bridegroom know that in a most discrete way and not by going in front of the bridegroom and making a show of straightening it. The best man who can be discrete and blend into the background will be a highly valued support for the bridegroom. But one who tries to steal the show will be sidelined at the first opportunity.

One reason why we seek prominence may be because we equate our worth to what other people think about us. Then we would be always trying to impress others even by showing off. We would also feel depressed when we don't get any prominence. If we don't learn to overcome this tendency, we are also likely to cause problems all around.

In the ultimate analysis, what people think about us is not of any real value because it may be true or false and at best it is temporary and transient. For Christians our value is what God thinks about us. We are valuable to Him because He paid for us with the death of His Son. He guards us like the apple of His eyes (Zec.2:8). He has also entrusted each of us with some task in His kingdom and He will honour us for our faithfulness in carrying it out. He is going to reward us individually and not in comparison with anyone else (Ro.14:12).