Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Humility, And How I Acheived It

That title may not be completely appropriate to this blog, mainly because this blog is not about how humble I may or may not be, but rather is about what humility truly is.

I just have always loved the concept of writing a book with that title, simply because it's so humorous. Speaking of humor, I really do believe that one of the ultimate tests of humility is whether or not a person is able to laugh at themself. Anyway, what I propose to discuss in this blog is whether or not a person can know that they are humble, what humility would look like if we were all perfect beings, and how to show humility when arguing with people.

"Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought, though it might rather puzzle him to do that." - Charles Spurgeon

"When we become aware of our humility, we've lost it." - Unknown

I would have to agree with Spurgeon that humility is a right estimate of one's self. Humility is not telling yourself that you are somehow less pretty or talented than you actually are. False humility is just as inaccurate as pride is, and many times they both lead to the same kind of problems. A proud person does not trust God's guidance, and suffers because of it. A falsely humble person is constantly in a trial because they never truly enjoy God's love... usually because they view themselves as unlovable. Neither truly trusts God and enjoys His love for them: weak, frail, sinful people that they are. And both leads to treating other people badly. A proud person will criticize others mercilessly, and view them with contempt. A falsely humble person will be either always miserable and negative, or constantly looking for reassurance from others - either way, they are a burden to those around them. Both are a trial and a burden to others.

If humility is making a right estimate of one's self, I think that it is very important to study the Bible enough to truly understand who we are and what we are. We are not lacking in intrinsic value, we are all lovable, we are fallible and prone to making dumb mistakes on a consistent basis, we are weak, we as christians are perfectly righteous, (the real you - "It is no longer I, but the sin that is in me" - the old nature still trips us up) we each are talented and gifted, we each are beautiful examples of God's creations, we each glorify God, we are awesome. (If anyone of you are unaware of where those concepts are found in the Bible, ask me, and I'll give you references) We can figure out a right estimate of ourselves, and then claim to be humble. We can be aware of our humility, and not lose it in the process. But we cannot assume that if we are humble for an instant, that the humility will continue - no, we must continue to work on being humble.

Yesterday, I was chatting with my brother about the idea of perfection. If we were all sinless and perfect beings, would it be okay to be proud? I came to the conclusion that it would not. If we were perfect, then we would humility be grateful to God for how awesome He made us, and be subject to Him. Pride is when a perfect being (Lucifer) was not content to be a perfect angel, but proudly conceived that he could be something else: a perfect god! It's a funny idea, thinking about perfect beings being humble. But of course they would have to be, or they would no longer be perfect! Christ Himself was perfect, and therefore perfectly humble, even though He was perfect and He was God! (Phil 2:8) What a concept! It makes my brain tingle...

It seems to me that one of the times when a person is mostly likely to be accused of a lack of humility is in the middle of a discussion or argument. If a person presents his or her argument clearly, and the other party still refuses to agree, it is a common assumption that it's because of a lack of humility on the part of the other party... especially if the other party is younger and less experienced. This reasoning is flawed, and we can see throughout history a great many righteous humble men who honestly disagreed with each other and never came to agreement. When debating or confronting people, it's important to show humility by avoiding either of these pitfalls: not verbalizing respect for the other person or refusing to honestly listen to and prayfully consider what the other person has to say.

The first is simply thoughtlessness. If you are debating with someone, it is prideful to be inconsiderate of their feelings by never showing respect or affection, but only disagreeing with their point of view. The second is a more serious case of pride. Humility demands that you might be incorrect, and that the other person, who perhaps may even be more wrong than you are, may have some part of the truth that you do not have! Therefore, humility demands that you at least listen to and seriously (and prayerfully) consider what they have to say. Humility does not demand that they are correct or that you have to believe everything you hear, or everything that the majority teaches. Come to think of it, if you are arguing, and you assume that the only possible reason for the other person not to agree with you (assuming that obviously you are correct, assuming that they must not be simple deceived, but actively flawed) you are the one with the pride problem... ;)

So that is my belief about humility... and as Maxwell Smart once said:
"And that belief is unshakable, unarguable, and incontrovertible!!!!
Of course, I could be wrong..."
Humility is not believing that you are less valuable than dirt, but rather having a proper estimate of one's self. Pride and false humility are perhaps equally inaccurate points of view about who you are. We could all be perfect, and someday, in heaven, we will be perfect - and yet even in perfection, it's possible to be humble. And last but not least, even if you disagree, talk and listen to others in humility and gentleness.

Oh - and one final thing: you are all awesome! I thank God for you all!

(And it's not pride to believe that that is actually true!)

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