“The stamp of the Saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.” C.S. Lewis
We Americans are big on our rights. Our Declaration of Independence even goes so far as to say that we all have “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As this quote from C.S. Lewis indicates, however, the more we pursue our “rights” the less likely we are to be obeying Christ.
Think about it. The enforcement of one’s rights is inherently one of self-interest. The Biblical mandate is one of humility. Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself; rather humility is not thinking of one’s self at all. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippians,
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 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;rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!" Philippians 2: 3-8.
Only when we give up self-interest can we serve with love, joy and kindness. It is only when we give up our rights, that we become truly free from fear, anger, or bitterness. We become patient with those around us, and are able to effectively serve without becoming burnt out or bitter.
I must be clear. The Christian life is not one where we allow people to trample all over us. Allowing someone to take advantage of you is not only bad for yourself, but is also bad for the person who is using you. In that sense, we should stand up for ourselves. But not allowing people to take advantage of us is much different than demand the enforcement of our so-called rights.