I think a lot of people in our day are confused about humility. They think that if arrogance is having an inflated opinion of yourself, then humility must be the opposite – having a low opinion of yourself. Humble people, they assume, are people who dismiss praise and downplay any acclaim. People who don’t believe their own press.
But humility is not having a low self-assessment. It’s having an accurate self-assessment. Truly humble people understand their gifts and abilities. And they understand where those gifts and abilities come from. They understand that every human being – including themselves – has value, worth, and dignity as image-bearers of God.
At the same time, truly humble people clearly understand the reality of their fallen nature. They understand that when Romans 3 says, “there is no one who is righteous, no, not one,” they are included in that description.
The Bible is where we learn what is true about every human being. It ensures that we don’t think too highly of ourselves, or too lowly of ourselves. God wants us to have a correct self-appraisal. He wants us to understand that, unlike the rest of creation, we have been made in His image. As a result, we have worth and value and dignity. At the same time, He wants us to understand what is true about our sinful nature. The hymn writer gets it right when he declares that we are “guilty, vile and wretched.”
I love the way Keith and Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick express it in one of the songs we’ll sing this Sunday:
Two wonders here that I confess,
My worth and my unworthiness,
My value fixed, my ransom paid
At the cross.
The more we come to understand that both of these things – are worth and our unworthiness – are equally true, the more that understanding will produce humility in us.
And when we start to understand who God is, and see ourselves as we truly are, as the Bible describes our condition, there is no way that we can remain arrogant. Even in areas where we may excel in comparison to others, we begin to realize that the gifts and abilities we have come from the God who created us, shaped us, and ordered every aspect of our lives.
The Apostle Paul makes this point in 1 Cor. 4 when he says to the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
As we grow in humility, our focus begins to shift. The more attention we pay to self, the less attention we are paying to God or to other people. And the less attention we are paying to self, the more capacity we have to see and care about the needs of others.
Tim Keller writes this kind of humility in his book The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. Paraphrasing CS Lewis, Keller says “If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.
“Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with me. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.”
“God resists the proud,” James says. “But He gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And Peter adds this command: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time (on the coming day of the Lord) he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6).
It’s time! It’s this Sunday! The Super Bowl!
Have you been attending Redeemer for a while, and maybe thought about joining with us as covenant members of our church? Want to better understand what that’s all about? Here’s your chance!
There’s still time for you to sign up. Send Matt an email right now if you’re interested in attending.
The spring Women’s Bible Study kicks off next week. Are you signed up?
And if you missed the women’s fellowship on Monday night, you missed a great evening together.
Do you have any furniture or kitchen items you’ve been thinking about taking to the Goodwill or maybe passing on to someone else?
Back before Christmas we learned about an older couple who live near our church. Bernice and Stuart are in their 70’s. While they were out of town one weekend, squirrels apparently chewed through some of the wirings in their home. That led to a tragic house fire. They lost virtually everything. When we heard about the fire, we learned that Bernice, who broke her back two years ago was sleeping on the floor. So we decided to buy Stuart and Bernice a new bed.
Pastor Matt helped deliver the bed and was able to see first hand how little Stuart and Bernice have left. So we decided to see if anyone has anything in storage that you’ve been wondering what to do with – particularly, a small kitchen table and chairs, maybe some upholstered furniture – a sofa, chairs or a recliner, perhaps – pots and pans or any spare drinking glasses?
If you have any items you’d like to donate to help Stuart and Bernice refurnish their home, or if you have any questions or other thoughts about how you might be able to help them, contact Pastor Matt via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for whatever you can do to help Stuart and Bernice.
One of the ways words the Bible uses to describe God’s love for us is the word “steadfast.” It doesn’t wobble. Doesn’t waver. It doesn’t fail.
Steadfastness is one of the character qualities God calls us to cultivate as His children. We’ll talk about what it means to be steadfast men and women as we gather for worship this week.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!