Like I mentioned last time, somewhere in the middle there is True Humility. On the one hand, there is Pride and Arrogance. This is pretty easy to spot – at least the extreme cases are – aren’t they? Feelings of superiority, arrogance, self-conceited – thinking too highly of oneself, vanity, vainglory – boasting in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, self-centered, self-seeking, etc. You get the picture. God hates this. The Proverbs writer wrote: “There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Pro. 6:16-19) That life is self-destructive: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pro. 16:18) When we are so full of ourselves that we can’t be instructed and we refuse to back down – we do so to our own demise.
On the other hand, there is Superficial Humility. This is more subtle, it seems. Such can be manifested in a self-defeating mindset and poor self-image, evaluating oneself too negatively, the tendency to be self-deprecating or have a posture of self-deprivation, preoccupied with anxious concern for oneself. False humility is when we intentionally put ourselves down as a way of lifting ourselves up in the eyes of others. I understand that false humility is actually rooted in authentic pride. We can do this quite innocently.
Do you ever have trouble accepting a compliment? I have. As Allison Barron says on the website “Boundless”: “I tend to brush them off because they make me uncomfortable — maybe because I’m afraid I’ll become arrogant if I accept them, or maybe I don’t want the pressure of people expecting great future things from me because I’ve done this one neat thing. Whatever the case, my logic is flawed. Accepting a compliment acknowledges that the person giving it appreciates something about me or finds value in something I did. Arguing, ‘No, that article I wrote really isn’t as good as you say,’ actually diminishes the value they may have found in reading it.” I love how she concludes things. Listen to this. This is huge. “Humble people can be talented, have nice hair, display a positive personality trait — and they aren’t necessarily being prideful by accepting compliments on those things.” Folks that is some helpful stuff – don’t be superficial – EVER!
I can’t imagine God being pleased with anything that’s superficial, fake or not real. Paul in Colossians 2:18 speaks of one being “puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.” Other translations call it “false humility.” Plus, that type of attitude smacks of hypocrisy. Some of Jesus’ hardest words concerned hypocrisy. (Mt. 23:23-28)
Imagine Jesus Christ walking from town to town on this earth thinking that He was the worst Rabbi ever. “I’m such a lousy teacher. I’m from Nazareth. I was born in a manger. I am a carpenter’s son – nobody will ever listen to me.” There’s not even a sniff of that in Scripture. He wasn’t inferior to anybody; yet, He chose to lower Himself to serve others. For someone to live with a constant posture of worthlessness is like living shackled – push through that.
And then right in the middle, there’s True Humility. True humility is being honest, objective and thankful. True humility is not a human emotion or demeanor; it’s simply the lack of pretense. True humility is an honest confession; it’s self-forgetfulness, selflessness and self-sacrificing for the sake of others. True humility is being lowly of heart and treating everyone with respect, care, and concern, regardless of their status, position, or worthiness, not playing favorites. True humility is being comfortable in one’s skin, it’s being real, genuine. True humility doesn’t take itself too seriously – it is simply thankful and honest.
I love how C.S. Lewis puts it: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Friends, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble! (Ja. 4:6) The question is: Do I want Grace or do I want Distance from God? True humility – whether it’s in our family lives, in our love, our doing of discipleship or even our prayers – is a “game-changer.”
I find it interesting that humility isn’t one of the fruits of the Spirit. Could it be because each of these good characteristics (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) has an element of humility within it? Actually, you can’t even have any of these things without first having that foundation of authentic humility.
May God help us to be intentional about living our lives fully aware of who we are before our incredible, unending and holy God. Humility’s the key!