Humility is not self-denigration

I’ve been hearing a lot about pride lately. Uh-oh. Time for some self-examination.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Alistair Begg’s messages at lately, so I was delighted to hear his messages on Romans 12:1-8, which for me provided clarity, conviction, and comfort on the topic of pride.  I loved it so much, I transcribed the best parts for us.

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

From Alistair:
“The answer to the problem of pride is not self-denigration.  Actually, self-denigration is the product of pride as well. This dreadful problem of viewing myself in an exaggerated way or viewing myself in a way that is entirely self-focused is also found in pride because it has to do with one’s comparison of oneself to someone else…

“So the answer that Paul provides here is not, ‘You need to stop thinking of yourself as a big shot and you need to think of yourself as a complete clodhopper. No. ‘Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment.’

“In other words, this is one of the ways in which a Christian has a renewed mind. To think of ourselves in a worldly way is just to constantly compare ourselves with other people. To think of ourselves in this way is to see myself as having value on account of God’s mercy and God’s grace. That my significance, that my identity, that my value, that my part, that my role within the purposes of God is on account of who God is and what God has done, not on account of what I am and what I’m seeking to do for God….

“When we come together in the context of the gospel, when we focus on the mercies of God, when we make assessments on the basis of the faith that God has given to us in relationship to the gifts that He’s provided for us, then these things, although not irrelevant, lose their significance in terms of our identity.”

Sometimes I think, though we might not say it, that we believe that if only we make it sound like we’re a nothing, we won’t sound, or be, prideful. Not only is that still self-focused, it’s also denigrating God’s good creation – us. When I look at who God has made me, with all my gifts, strengths, and weaknesses, and how His grace infuses all of that perfectly, I can have a proper perspective of myself and of God, glorify Him for what He has done, and be confident and joyful in it.

So the question for me and you today is, how are we doing in terms of thinking of ourselves in light of who God made us, and of how His mercy and grace infuses our strengths and weaknesses? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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