Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Not Putting Ourselves Forward

Humility is one of the least valued of the Biblical virtues in the present day. It also competes with meekness to be the most misunderstood and stereotyped. Our society emphasizes self-esteem and assertiveness. It argues that you must believe in yourself to be successful. Humility is seen as putting yourself down and denying the abilities that you actually have. This is not genuine humility. I like C. S. Lewis' description of a man who makes a beautiful painting and recognizes it is a beautiful painting and rejoices in it. But he does not rejoice in it more than if it had been done by another, or in a sunset or a waterfall. It is the strong preference for something that is mine just because it mine that produces the bragging and being puffed up that are opposed to love and are wrong (1 Corinthians 13:4; Proverbs 16:18; Luke 18:9-14).

Now there are clear reasons for humility. We are created by God, and every good thing we have comes from Him (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 139:13-16; James 1:17). We are also sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) who have been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). Also, it is God who is at work in us to change us and accomplish His purposes through us (1 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:28,29). Therefore we do not trust in ourselves but in God (2 Corinthians 1:9; James 4:13-16; Psalm 147:10,11).

This type of humility does not lead to timidity, but to a confidence based on God and our relationship with Him (2 Timothy 1:7-12; Ephesians 6:19,20; Romans 8:31-39). And while it may require us to make an honest evaluation of our abilities (Romans 12:3), it does not call us to ignore them, but to use them for the building up of others (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11; Ephesians 4:11-16). But it gives credit to God where the credit is due (Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) and puts the good of others before our own (Philippians 2:3-11; Galatians 5:13-15;  Romans 12:16). 

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