~ This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Brad Ettore. You can hear the whole sermon, The Role of Humility in Our Lives (part 3), from Agathos Church – a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio by clicking here.
1 Cor 4:7 says “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” In thinking about humility from a scriptural basis, gifts are not to be avoided. It is about “WHO” gave you the gifts. Often, still filled with pride, we can be weird about even acknowledging that we are good at something. That is called false humility. Paul says to get away from false humility. False humility is nothing more than one of many masks of pride. It is pure pride. Inside we are gloating. We hide it on the outside solely to not lose the accolades of men that overt pride would steal.
So, in other words, false humility is pride in disguise.
True humility, on the other hand, is NOT talent denial. True humility simply sees yourself accurately. True humility is not the new kid on the block in terms of our God-given thinking processes. Pride is. Pride is the “add on,” the “something different, or abnormal.” Humility is not really “more” or “less” of anything. Humility just is. It does not shy away from expressing reality, nor does it exaggerate it. Humility is the original design for our hearts; pride is the intruder.
So, there is no need to bury the reality of giftedness! There is no need to oddly play yourself down as it relates to one of your gifts. God gave you that gift and wants you to enjoy it – just recognize where it came from! WHO makes you differ? It’s not that you don’t differ. Just keep the “WHO” in perspective and you will stay in a place of TRUE humility. When we are applauded, inside we are saying “Lord, you did this in me!” In a way, in that moment, we are admiring God’s handiwork! For example, if you had a great vase in your foyer that you bought from a talented artist, that vase is not a testament to you, but to the artist. Likewise, God made you. Don’t take credit for you.
So, compared to our normal way of thinking, true humility may lead us to feel like we need to “pull back” on how we communicate and think about some things. At the same time, true humility can also be incredibly liberating – because we stop constantly bounce between varying degrees of overt pride and hidden pride (false humility). True, biblical humility is just plain and simple. It is what it is. That said, as we start to catch the freedom that comes with true humility – the freedom to speak plainly, we would be wise to be careful how we speak, because some people might not grasp the biblical view of humility. For instance, we might say “I know, I am really good at that!” because we are not bashful about it – because we know where we got it from and in so saying we are actually giving God the glory! So, don’t let your freedom cause another to stumble, but true humility – keeping proper perspective on you – is actually incredibly liberating!