Saturday, April 2, 2011

Humility: The Right and the Wrong of It

Humility: The Wrong and the Right of It

I’ve been reading a lot about pride and humility lately. They are both so much more complex than they appear. Despite what I was raised to believe, humility does not equal self-loathing. And I have recently learned how easily pride can disguise itself as humility. Who knew that it was my pride that was compelling me to be conformed to the mold of “humility” that was actually a false humility!

According to C.S. Lewis, the wrong end of humility involves having a “certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of [one’s] own talents and character.” It is trying to believe that my talents are less valuable than someone else’s (which may or may not be true). That makes me become defensive and easily offended. It also keeps me from accomplishing anything for God! It is like “pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools.” Lewis goes on to say that, since what they are trying to believe is not true, they will not succeed in believing it. But in the never-ending attempt to believe this lie about themselves, their minds are “endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible.” In trying so hard to be what we think is humble, we become self-absorbed, overly introspective and totally ineffective for God. Not only that, Lewis says that, “self contempt can be made the starting point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.” All the while we thought we were trying to be humble, we have become gloomy, cynical and even cruel! We’ve come to “love” our neighbors with the same contempt with which we “love” ourselves--not even close to what God wants to do in us.

The right end of humility—God’s goal for humility—is for one “to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talents.” Lewis says God wants to restore to us “a new kind of self-love—a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours.”

Wouldn’t it be great to be that free?! Am I the only one who struggles with this? To be so free from my own bias, from trying so hard to be noticed and affirmed, and yet remain “humble”… to be able to rejoice in someone else’s talents as well as my own would be real freedom for me!

To rejoice in my own accomplishments without pride… is that possible? According to Lewis, with the right end of humility, it is.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!