On "Humility"

"Pride is not something only us storytellers struggle with, but our American/Western culture as a whole. We are such a proud people. We are so proud we have made pride a positive character trait. We have religions, both Christian based and pagan, that worship pride, accomplishment, and self. It’s all about you."

Humility

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Some good thoughts in this post, but some things are lumped together unhelpfully as well. Biblical humility is not about erasing self; it’s about properly relating self to others, to God, and to the truth.

This is why Paul admonishes us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think in Rom. 12:3, then puts our unique strengths in an individual-vs.-body context. If you’re an excellent distance swimmer, for example, say one of the top three or four in the world, there is no pride inherent in saying “If you’re looking for an excellent swimmer, I’m your man.” By the same token, there’s no pride in my claiming that I’m really good at floating on my back and kicking my legs for a long time—but I’d be stumbling if I thought that made me a great swimmer.

There’s a fine but important line between recognizing our individual worth and importance—and our stewardship of that value—vs. thinking too highly of ourselves.

There’s a neat little book in amazon kindle format that compiles the teachings of John Calvin on humility. …. compiled by Arthur Wilkinson. I’ll have to see if I can find the link and post it. Anyway, highly recommend it. Boiled down to its essence, our pride problems are truth problems, and the cure for pride is to think truthfully about self not to try to avoid thinking of self at all… or thinking of self as a “door mat.”

We’re also not called to dismiss the idea of achievement. To whom much is given much shall be required. As Christians achievement is aimed at developing and accomplishing everything God intends for us, to glorify Him to the fullest extent. So achievement is a means to an end—but not a means we should shun.

Edit, here’s that link. By the way, Calvin interacts w/Scripture a great deal, though he is also fond of lots of clear reasoning.

Image of Teachings on Humility, From the Writings of John Calvin
by Arthur Wilkinson, John Calvin
GT500.org 2011
Paperback 70

SuzanneT's picture

Very helpful thoughts, Aaron, I agree! 

However I didn't see where the author said that Biblical humility was about "erasing self".  She wasn't calling us to discount accomplishments or "dismiss the idea of achievement" - her post was calling  us to recognize the deceitfulness of pride, and that our identity and "individual worth and importance" (such as it may be); lies utterly and completely in Christ. 

I personally resonated with her thoughts in that pride is so deeply, systemically rooted within each of us--in just about everything we think or do.  But for God's grace those pride-enveloped layers get peeled away one very thin layer at a time, exposing more and more of the reality of our sinfulness, making us more and more into the image of Christ.

So in that sense, I think, it very much is about "erasing"  "self" - and I believe that's all the author was addressing.

/edit - on another note, I ought to get me one of them thar Kindles one of these days Biggrin

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There's a kindle reader for PC you can download. Free I believe. That's what I use for Kindle titles, though I haven't yet figured out how to get my titles out of the "cloud reader" and make them local.

I probably should have included some quotes from the linked piece to show what I'm reacting to.

The ‘wise older women’ of our culture teach the younger women that meekness and humility make you a doormat.

You know what?
They do.
You want see the ultimate doormat? Look to Christ.

And

Pride is not something only us storytellers struggle with, but our American/Western culture as a whole. We are such a proud people. We are so proud we have made pride a positive character trait. We have religions, both Christian based and pagan, that worship pride, accomplishment, and self. It’s all about you.

Alot of good stuff in the post, but I find the variety of different problems (and some things I'm not sure are problems at all) lumped together here with pride a bit confusing. (For example, there is a positive character trait we also use the word "pride" for--the emotion/attitude that is the opposite of shame)

Of course, there is a sense in which Jesus could fit the "doormat" metaphor. But it's a strain. Relative to the glory and fully functional equality with God He had before He "humbled Himself" (Php. 2:6-8), He became a doormat of sorts. But we usually use the term to describe a person who just lets other people do whatever they want to him/her, mindlessly accepts whatever orders are dished out--in short, from a Christian perspective, a doormat is someone who is not being a responsible steward of who God made him/her to be.

There is not much "doormat" in John 7:6-9, Mark 4:39, Matt. 23:13ff., or John 2:13-16.

So a huge part of the battle with pride--indeed, maybe all of it--is the battle for inward truth. Among other truths, we have to tell the difference between taking a stand in pursuit of our responsibilities vs. taking a stand in pursuit of our wants. And even that statement doesn't do it justice, because, to the extend our affections are properly aligned there is no difference.

SuzanneT's picture

Aaron quotes author Abby:
 "The ‘wise older women’ of our culture teach the younger women that meekness and humility make you a doormat.
You know what?
They do.
You want see the ultimate doormat? Look to Christ." ... "the "doormat" metaphor..."

[and] "There is not much "doormat" in John 7:6-9, Mark 4:39, Matt. 23:13ff., or John 2:13-16. [oh, totally agree!]

I agree, the "doormat" language is strong and drifts a bit from doctrinal purity (though I don't think damagingly), but the point she made (at least for me) was spot on--Christ's life is the ultimate look-to when (among all else) we get those "doormat" feelings (perhaps something women are more prone than men).  I certainly don't advocate that we become all doormats to all men, but it can and does occur. :~)

There is an excellent read that fits in with what the author was getting at-many here may have seen it before, called Dying to Self​ by Bill Brighton. When I read it years ago I made a copy and put it on the fridge..I need to do that again Smile

"Among other truths, we have to tell the difference between taking a stand in pursuit of our responsibilities vs. taking a stand in pursuit of our wants. And even that statement doesn't do it justice, because, to the extend our affections are properly aligned there is no difference."​

Well said!

Thanks for the Kindle heads-up, I'll have to check that out!

I appreciate the dialog, you've given me much to think about, thanks, Aaron!