Monday, October 5, 2009

Humility vs. False-Humility

People often confuse Humility with false humility. The difference between the two is one that is simple - humility never lies - it always speaks the truth.

Let's give an example. A person is asked, "Would you like me to help you with that?" Consider these two responses:

1) "Actually, yes, I could use some help. Thank you."
2) "No, no, no, I can handle it," while the person then really wants help.

The first response is true. It admits one's own lack, own's own need. It accepts and receives love - which is humility.

The second response is a lie. It is proud, it is deceitful, it is false.

Too often with act in this second way and call it humility - we think being humble means you don't let others aid you, we think it means you "try not to be a burden" -- but that is not humility. That's denying reality and spurning love.

Likewise, when our Lord instructs us to be humble, He is not telling us to merely mouth the words, not merely to say, "Oh yes, I'm a poor miserable sinner" while we add in our minds "but not as miserable as that fellow over there." Rather, a call to humility is a call to see yourself truly - one who is hurt and aching and in need.

Beware of false-humility -- rather, in humility receive the good that is given you.


Christopher D. Hall said...

With false humility you think of others, and their reactions, and how you appear in their eyes, what they may think of you and so forth.

With true humility you see yourself and your lack and do not worry about your appearance, your reputation, your self viz a viz others at all.

Sounds strange, but true humility means having your eyes on yourself.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

This is because the instruction to be humble is a statement calling for self-examination - to see yourself honestly and confess that all your works are as but filthy rags.

Hmmm - really, when it gets to it, is humility just another way of speaking towards self-examination -- at least for us sinful folk?