“Say Uncle”

Have you ever heard of the expression “say uncle?”

World Wide Words indicates – “This call by one child for another to submit or cry for mercy — which appears variously as say uncle!, cry uncle! or holler uncle! — is first recorded in print in the US early in the twentieth century. The Oxford English Dictionary’s first example is from 1918, but I’ve found an instance in an advertisement in the Modesto News of California, dated 1912: “This Time it is ‘Martie’ Graves and Don Johns who made them say ‘Uncle.’”

The call to submit, even among children, is often resisted. I recall on more than one occasion resisting the ‘bully’ who had pinned me down and was insisting on his way!

Noone finds submission easy, yet Scripture embeds this principle into the very fabric of interpersonal relationships.  Consider what Peter writes in the next few sentences of chapter 5.

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothes yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7)

Younger Christ-followers often ‘march’ to their own drum and are adept at insisting on their ‘rights’ as they, at times, seek to introduce some ‘maverick’ doctrine or practice to their Christian community.

But whether new in the faith or a veteran, all believers are to go shopping for the ‘clothing’ of humility.  Put it on every day…in your Facebook posts (ouch), in your coffee break conversations, in your discussions.  You don’t always have to have the last word and you certainly aren’t always right?

So here are some useful questions to ask on a daily basis?

  1. Do I want more of God’s grace?  He opposes the proud.  Consider His dealings with Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel or Herod in Acts 12? Remain proud and obstinate as an individual, family, church, or even nation (after all this is election time….), and you forfeit God’s sustaining grace.
  2. Do I recognize God’s might hand in my life? Have you ever ‘spotted’ God and been able to recall a ‘God-story’ as events unfolded in daily living?
  3. What time is it? God has ‘due time’ and is in no rush as He awaits our submission.
  4. What cares do I have and what am I doing with them? God invites me to cast 100% of my anxious care upon Him instead of panicking, and ‘taking matters into my own hand?’

So, as another day begins, let’s be quick to submit, when God in His providential dealings with us calls us to submit.  It’s high time to ‘say uncle.’

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