I once heard a speaker in a business setting say that he had no ego. I had the same reaction that is probably going through your head right now, “Of course, he has an ego. We all do.” But as I thought about it later, I conceded that maybe pride is not an issue for him. It is easy for me to project my challenges with pride onto others. Do you think it is common for us to project our own besetting sins onto others and assume they are weighed down with the same issues?
Because of reactions like mine, humility is a hard topic to write about. You can’t very well say it is something you have attained and come across as genuine. It is even hard to give tips on how to reach for it. I think one of the challenges is the way Christians confuse humility and dignity.
We too often equate humility with a denigration of dignity. We assault our New Testament dignity by calling ourselves poor wretched sinners. We somehow think seeing ourselves as basically worthless is a sign of humility. I actually think it is calling God a liar since he has labeled us holy and beloved saints. His label for us is where our dignity begins.
Our dignity comes from the fact that we are worthy to appear in God’s presence as holy and beloved saints; infused with the very righteousness of Christ. And this righteousness is not just a covering of our sin, but is a real life infusion; an indwelling of supernatural proportions. Our dignity comes from the fact that we are worthy to boldly approach God’s throne. And our humility comes from the fact that we had absolutely nothing to do with it. Our dignity is pure gift.
I like this distinction between dignity and humility. I have said before that humility is not a bright person thinking they are unintelligent. It is not a generous person thinking themselves a Scrooge. It is not a talented person thinking they have no skill. It is not a successful parent thinking of themselves as a failure. Humility is giving God the credit for all those accomplishments. It is giving God the glory for your talent, your brain, your understanding of the Word, your ability to communicate, your generosity, your parenting skills, and thanking Him for these gifts.
Humility is an attitude. An attitude of thanksgiving and deflecting the glory from ourselves to our God, the giver of all good gifts. It is not a denigration of our dignity. You are deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted, complete in Christ…and there is no inherent arrogance in believing that!