Wow! There are a lot of things you can accuse me of but this one hurts. It suggests that the way I present myself is a sham, that I am living a lie. The only thing that is worse than someone telling you that you live a life full of false humility is coming to the conclusion that they are right.
Maybe false humility is the result of Christian teaching.
How could anything undesirable be the result of Christian teaching? I am not asking about twisted doctrine or misquoted, out of context manipulation, but instead, good solid teaching. Is it possible to take a solid biblical idea and create a poor application? In the style of teaching that Jesus often employed let me answer the question with a question or two:
Isn’t Satan the father of lies? Isn’t every easy to believe lie founded in truth? In case you were wondering the answer is yes! Yes, Satan is the father of lies and yes every easy to believe lie is founded on truth. So if the father of lies sets out to deceive us he will use easy to believe lies based on perverted Christian teaching.
There are two origins of false humility.
A cover for arrogance. The actions of the arrogant must feed their feeling of superiority. If acting out the part of a humble person furthers their cause then humility is what you will see. It is not the character trait of humility that feeds their actions but rather the character trait of arrogance that forces them to present this appearance. What they do is not who they are.
A cover for guilt. The actions of the guilty feed their desire to not feel guilty anymore. Regardless of their actual level of humility, those who feel guilty about being good at something or just being okay in general can act humble to avoid the potential of appearing arrogant. It is not the character trait of humility that feeds their actions but rather the character trait of guilt that forces them to present this appearance. What they do may or may not be representative of who they really are but that is not why they do it.
The lies of Satan appeal to both the follower of Christ and the follower of one’s self.
For most Christ followers it is easy to see the lies of Satan lived out in the arrogant but it is very difficult to spot the lies of Satan at play in the lives of those who feel guilty.
The arrogance that is covered by the false humility of the self-follower will not remain hidden. It is that arrogance that reveals the lie of higher personal worth that they believe. It is Satan that started this lie with his belief that he was worth more than God and the resulting action of trying to become God. The character trait that is most prevalent in Satan, the character trait he tries to convince others to live out is arrogance.
If arrogance is the main character trait of the Evil One then it would stand to reason that the character trait that the Christ follower would most want to avoid is arrogance. If a believable lie is founded on truth then Satan founds his lie to the follower of Christ on the truth that arrogance has no place in their lives. On this truth a lie is built that causes fear, that leads to guilt, which in turn leads to false humility. To avoid the appearance of arrogance, humility is portrayed through denial of achievement or skill.
Being humble is what needs to propel our humility, not guilt.
It’s not the fear of appearing arrogant that signals the Christ follower to be humble but instead, the recognition that:
…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 (NIV), we aren’t any better than anyone else.
…God created mankind in his own image Genesis 1:27 (NIV), all of us bear His image.
…we should, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV), we need to be like Jesus and be concerned with others not caught up in ourselves.
False humility is often the action of the humble.
I have been grappling with this for a while. When the idea was first introduced to me I was offended. I couldn’t understand how I could be a part of this false humility behaviour. I do believe that I am a humble person. I know, saying that I am humble is not that humble a thing to say but it does help explain why I missed the idea of false humility. I see the amazing things that I have accomplished and can only attribute them to God’s power and perfection, not my abilities. I believe that that is a humble view of life as a follower of Christ.
The disconnect takes place when my view of God’s power takes a backseat to my fear of being arrogant. I become motivated by saying the right thing when complimented or when trying to present my skills and accomplishments. I may give God the glory because it is the right thing to say, but I am also likely to speak ill of myself at the same time which is an insult God’s creation. My words suggest that God is the reason for my success, but my motivation is to avoid looking arrogant.
Don’t believe Satan’s lie.
I don’t know if this blog is only for me but I do think it is important that we all look at why we do what we do. Humble is not how I act, it is who I am because I am God’s creation perfected in Christ and that is a truth that dispels all of Satan’s lies.