Contempt is disdain or scorn. It is lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike (WordNet). It’s the state of mind in which you feel that someone or something cannot be of any value to you.
Contempt is not a totally bad attitude. After all, it’s in being contemptuous toward sin that we don’t indulge in it. What is bad, even self-destructive, about contempt is the tendency to show it toward the wrong person or thing.
Foundation of Contempt
The basis of contempt is the assumption that you not only know what you want but you also know those who can help with what you want. Armed with this assumption, we tend to parade ourselves arrogantly toward the person we perceive is of no value to us.
Why is contempt limiting?
The limiting attribute of contempt derives from its rather false foundation. This foundation contradicts the general notion that humans are the most complex creatures to understand. You simply don’t know who is who. The life manual says, “The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” To ignore this warning signal and be contemptuous toward others is self-limiting.
The Power of Contempt
The way Jesus’ kinsmen treated him exemplified the power of contempt. Jesus, who personified power, couldn’t do any miracles in his hometown simply because his people couldn’t relate to the son of a carpenter who paraded himself as the Messiah! Their ‘knowledge’ of his background became a formidable barrier to their experiencing his life-transforming power.
What you stand to lose to contempt
Everything you need for life and living is in and about you. More often than not you need those around you to draw your attention to the treasure you have inside of you. Les Brown’s mentor once said to him, “Sometimes you have to believe in someone’s belief in you until you find your own belief.”
When you’re contemptuous you waste time, money and effort searching for things others could easily point to you if you have a good attitude.
- Missed Opportunities
I’ve seen people miss opportunities to make a positive first impression. For instance, I am in the bank waiting for a bank staff to attend to me. She goes on showing off a bad attitude only to turn around and be nice when she realizes that her boss is my friend but I leave totally unimpressed.
When you’re contemptuous toward people, you risk a missed opportunity.
- Disgrace and shame
Contempt often results in disgrace and shame especially when the person you’re contemptuous to is highly influential. Only very people can tolerate being treated with contempt.
Disgrace and shame became the lot of Queen Vashti for her contempt to King Ahasuerus (Esther 1).
How Not to Suffer the Consequence of Contempt
The recipe for overcoming the adverse consequences of contempt is to treat others well, as much as possible. The Scripture says that you should live peaceably with all as much as it depends on you.
Perhaps the strongest reason for treating others well is the biblical statement that some people, through their kind acts, entertained angels! Who doesn’t need an angel? You sure do!