- Identity and calling – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
- Caution – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).
A difficult path
This path is not easy when you live in an ego-centeric culture in which “human life degenerates into the clamor of competing autobiographies?”
- “In such a culture, the self exists to be explored, indulged and expressed, not disciplined and restrained. What has changed is that, “aggressive self-regard is no longer viewed with alarm. Instead, people praise and promote it” (“Not the Way It’s Suppose to be,” Cornelius Plantinga Jr.).
- It is true that, “The opposite of humility as a virtue is not self-confidence, initiative, assertiveness, …. but instead pushiness, scorn of ‘inferiors,’ rejoicing in the downfall of others, envy, resentment and grudge-bearing….” (Spiritual Emotions, Robert Roberts).
No need to feel humble
- “Humility is not itself an emotion, like joy or gratitude or contrition. A person could be a wonderful exemplar of humility without ever feeling humble; in fact, one who frequently feels humble is probably not very humble.”
- “But humility is a disposition not to feel the emotions associated with caring a lot about one’s status. It is the ability to have my self-comfort quite apart from any question about my place in the social pecking order (whether the criterion is accomplishments, education, beauty, money, power, fame, or position)” (Roberts).
We always face the danger of extremes on these matters.
While exposing sinful pride, we can open the way to a kind of prideful false humility. Some people are so humble they’re proud of it. Pretending to be humble isn’t the same as actually being humble. Those who use humility to seek out praise are perhaps the most proud.
Pretentious humility is self-refuting.
Humility doesn’t require one to continually engage in self-deprecation. As one has said, “Humility is self-confidence that runs far deeper than the tenuous self-confidence of the person who believes in himself because others look up to him.” (Roberts).
- “Jesus established humility and unconcern for social status not only as the psychological structure of His kingdom but also as a basis for entrance into it.” (see: Matthew 18:1-3).
How do we live out the call of Christ on our lives?
- “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26).
Those who take the path of self-denial (in an age of self-expression, self-worth and self-indulgence), will be set free!
A proud heart is an imprisoned heart. A heart humbled before God is free and full of grace (I Peter 5:5-6).
Good reminders for those who answer the call with caution!