As a Christian I am familiar with a few Christian buzz words that we all learn to either adore or abhore. Two of those words are “humility” (to adore) and self-esteem (to abhore). They are complete opposites in the Christian faith and they are both treated as appositional to each other. A true Christian, it is believed, can’t be humble without being self-deprecating. Self-esteem preaches the idea that you aren’t self-deprecating, right? That you actually choose to accept and love yourself for who you are created to be and who you are. Humility, it is believed, comes from the verses such as:
Luke 9:23. “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me”
James 4:10, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Humility is honored, Self-esteem is put down and made fun of. I have spent years being confused and disturbed by the teachings of humility that I have gotten in my past. If humility is truly self-deprecation, then why does God put such emphasis in Scripture about giving people gifts of the Spirit and having us use such gifts? He obviously wants to use us in His Kingdom and use our strengths. I doubt he wants us to worry about how we word what we say or how we say things, such as:
“I am gifted to write, by the grace of God…”
Just because we say “by the grace of God”, doesn’t change the fact that we said what we are gifted in or make us less or more humble. I think it’s OK that I can acknowledge my gift of writing. I also don’t think God needs me to play the game of adding a “humble add-on” like “by the grace of God” because it’s already a given that everything comes from God and everything can be taken away in a moment’s notice. I could have a freak accident where I lose my arms and then my writing is gone, right?
Humility is knowing and understanding that our gifts are there to be used by God, but that they can be removed at a moments notice and being OK with that that truth. Can you be OK with that truth? Can I? The trick is holding everything with hands palms up and fingers flat.
It’s OK to accept yourself, to even know that you’re “good enough”. After all, God felt you were worth it enough to come down as Jesus to die on the cross for your sins in order to establish a relationship with you. Self-esteem, with the latter thought in mind, is not so bad, is it? Self-esteem with the thought that everything and everyone should look at you and keep you in mind as the next best thing to the Prince of Peace is not OK, of course. Balance is the key. Keeping in mind why we are good enough is a good idea. Knowing that we don’t have to play mind games or word games is also OK. Christian Lingo needs to go and we need to just be ourselves. The “ourselves” that God was OK with coming down to Earth to save because He loves us dearly.
James 4:10 is about being humble when we are confessing our sins, if we look at the whole passage. It’s so easy to look at one verse and take a concept and twist it. We must look at the whole passage to find the truth of the scripture.
Luke 9:23 is talking about sacrifice in the midst of service for the kingdom. It has to do with the “open hands” concept that I spoke of earlier. Although it does speak of humility, I believe, it’s not speaking of self-deprecation. Self-deprecation is never spoken of in scripture. That is a worldly concept that is a replacement the devil brought in to confuse and deceive Christians in order to side-line us and make us not useful for the Kingdom of God.
So the next time you feel tempted to be self-deprecating in the place of humility. Remember who you are in Christ. Remember your gifts God has given you and try a little honoring of those gifts God gave you– not with word games– just with honest honor to the gift God gave you. Yes, it’s OK.