King of the Castle

The mound of snow on the playground was perfect for the game. At the red-bricked grade school I attended, this particular game was a favorite at recess-time. When the bell rang, the first boy or girl to make it to the top got to be “king”–the other children gathered at the base of the pile, waiting a turn to challenge the king’s position. One by one, they’d storm up the hill and wrestle its occupant. After a short scuffle, one child would prevail and the other would come tumbling down–arms and legs flailing–mitts, toque, and scarf covered in clumps of frosty white crystals. With raised arms, the child who managed to stay on top would then exercise his or her bragging rights: “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal! NAH-nah-nah-NAH-nah!”–he or she’d taunt. 

King of the Castle” is a silly, childish game, but unfortunately, it’s a game that’s played in the lives of most adults–albeit on a much more sophisticated level. In the grown-up game there are no physical hills . . . But still, people fight with one another for superiority. Everyone wants to be “King of the Castle.” Emotionally and psychologically we knock one another down so that we can claim the high place as our own.

According to Proverbs, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin” (21:4). In the Old Testament, a lamp or light were common metaphors for physical life. There was no electricity, so if a lamp in a tent went out at night, the surroundings were pitch black–reminiscent of the darkness of death. Therefore, what this verse is saying is that the sin of pride is at the very core of a wicked person’s life. A sinful person regards himself as King of the Castle, and attempts to throw down anyone who challenges or refutes this claim. His own self-interest is at the core of all he says and does.

This self-centered attitude stands in marked contrast to the attitude of Christ. Jesus was humble. Exalting God the Father’s glory–and not his own–is what motivated his behavior. Paul expected all followers of Christ to adopt the same mind-set:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant . . . he humbled himself . . . (Phil. 2:3-9)

Our behavior towards others is the true test of whether we are filled with pride or humility. In humility, Jesus set aside his own interests to serve others. Paul encouraged us to have the same attitude. When we humbly recognize that God alone is King, we become willing to set aside our own desires to sacrificially serve others. Our opinions and wishes become secondary to the opinions and wishes of our heavenly Father. The more we bow before him in humility, the less apt we are to rival and fight with others. Humility puts an end to our futile, childish attempts to be the King of the Castle.     

Think back over the interactions you had with people this past week–Were your actions or words motivated by a desire to be King of the Castle? Memorizing Philippians 2:3-5 might help counteract those King of the Castle tendencies.

Do you have any other suggestions on how you can stop having a King of the Castle type attitude?

About the Author

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian is an award-winning author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a frequent guest on Revive Our Hearts. She has written more than a dozen books and Bible studies including Conversation Peace and The Right Kind of Strong. … read more …

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