Humility, false and true

Our pastor and elders are seeking revival at our church.  As part of this, the adult Sunday School class is going through a three-month study called Seeking Him.  There is a workbook with things to read and questions to answer each day.

We’re only in the second week, but already I’m appreciating the study.  It’s directing our focus and getting Mary Ann and me talking about things that are good to talk about.

This week’s topic is humility.  It’s been good too, starting with the contrast of the reigns of Asa and Rehoboam, and how God treats the proud versus the humble.

I am concerned about the list of characteristics of proud vs. humble men that was part of today’s reading, though — particularly the first five:

Proud men… Humble men…
1. focus on the failures of others 1. are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need
2. have a critical, fault-finding spirit; look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope 2. are compassionate; can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven
3. are self-righteous; look down on others 3. esteem all others better than themselves
4. have an independent, self-sufficient spirit 4. have a dependent spirit; recognize their need for others
5. have to prove they are right 5. are not argumentative

By these criteria, is not every man who fearlessly preaches the Word of God a proud man who needs to repent? What about Moses, Micaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Athanasius, Calvin, Luther? Men opposed and hated in their time for refusing to silence the Word of God. Yet which is the true humility: to be completely submitted to our King, proclaiming his excellencies and judgments — or to cover over these excellencies and judgments to avoid offending the sensibilities of modern man?

Brothers and sisters, in our day we call evil, good and good, evil. The man who speaks the truth of God with confidence we call arrogant, while the man who suppresses the truth or expresses it with doubt — without power — we call humble. In a day where the latter practice is rampant, I wish our study had helped us to draw these important distinctions. Let us keep them in mind and proclaim God’s Word fearlessly and with confidence, knowing that if we suffer insult for being so “arrogant” as to have an unapologetic confidence in the Word of God, it is our privilege to share in the sufferings of our Lord Christ!

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3 Responses to Humility, false and true

  1. Stephen says:

    I would agree that the list may have some faults but would not necessarily call a fearless preacher a proud man. I think that only by being truly humble and recognizing our own failures can we honestly love those around us. How can I look to the failure of another without first looking at how I have failed. We deceive ourselves if we think we are unable to doing the exact same thing – There but for the grace of God go I. That said, being humble is not the same as being silent. We speak our mind when necessary but only after our actions show that we are speaking out of love and not condemnation.

    As for the list, perhaps the wording is not quite correct but the overall message is. Even so, perhaps the wording that I object to may be the one that I need the most work on :)

  2. danielmeyer says:

    “only after our actions show that we are speaking out of love and not condemnation.”

    But… warning folks of the condemnation they face if they do not repent *is* love. It’s a false love (and a false humility) that refuses to warn others of their danger because we sin too.

    Certainly there can be no *personal* condemnation coming from us. Who are we to condemn anyone, being sinners ourselves? So it’s not a matter of “speaking our mind”, but as faithful ambassadors we do not shrink back from speaking God’s counsels, his words of life.

  3. Stephen says:

    I agree completely but still would not say the list ascribes pride to even the most outspoken of people who are fully in the spirit. All the icons of Christanity had long established their humility before God and man before speaking. The list of the proud does not describe them. They look with God’s eyes not man’s.

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