One of the upsides to the downside economy is less swagger among those who often have acted as if they were better than others. With business off and investments down, they tend to take a little lower profile these days.

Elitism is offensive to observe. It is simply acting in a way that conveys that you, yours and those like you are more important than others.

It is expressed in a variety of ways:

A condescending smirk that suggests, “I don’t think I’ve seen you at the club” or “I don’t believe you live in our neighborhood.”

Parking in no-parking spots rather than in the spaces used by “regular” people.

Treating wait staff or others in the service industry as if they are your servants.

And many more ways of looking down on others.

In addition to social elitism, there is the perhaps more offensive spiritual elitism. In a sermon at First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., last Sunday, I confessed that I’d rather be in a room full of honest pagans than have to hang around one person who thought they’d mastered the Christian faith.

Spiritual elitism bugged Jesus too. He had much to say about Pharisaic attitudes and behaviors.

Acting as if we have God figured out, pretending that we somehow live above the struggles of life and judging others as if we are the standard-bearer will fool few other than oneself.

Staying off the pedestal may be difficult. But it is the right thing to do.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3 NIV)

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