God’s been dealing with me about true humility—and I didn’t even recognize it. It all started while listening to Andrew’s new teaching, Humility: God’s Path to More Grace. Nothing about this teaching struck me. I felt like everything he said, though true, was something I already knew. Then, one day, I was struggling with writer’s block. I asked my husband for ideas, and he told me to write about a certain event from my past that illustrated what I was working on.
“I can’t write about that!” I snapped.
“Why not?” he asked. “It’s true and it’s a great example.”
Then it hit me: Andrew’s teaching had been right—like many others in the body of Christ, I held an incorrect, religious definition of humility.
Humility is not this beat-down, low self-esteem that sometimes has been portrayed. Religion has presented a wimpish idea of what true humility is. Jesus said He was meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29), and yet I guarantee you, there’s nothing weak in Him. He was strong. He was bold. He did not fear the religious leaders.
My husband told me to write about an instance in my life when I’d followed the principles of God’s Word on true humility and had been blessed because of it. I immediately refused. I can’t brag about my success! I thought. That’s prideful.
The Lord spoke to my heart: Actually thinking that this success story is about you is prideful. That story is about Me.
Whoa! God was right. That story had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t my own awesomeness that made God’s Word work, and it wasn’t pride to acknowledge His faithfulness. It wasn’t pride to recognize His work in my life or to defer to His opinion of me. That’s the part of Andrew’s teaching I missed. He said,
The Scripture says not to think more highly of yourself than you ought (Rom. 12:3). But you also shouldn’t think more lowly of yourself than you ought. Religion has said you can’t knock yourself down low enough. But [anytime] you exalt your opinion above God’s, you’re proud. [Though] the Word of God says you’re the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), [if] you say, “Oh, no, I’d never say that,” that’s pride…. Humility is not exalting your opinion about yourself above God’s. If the Word of God says it, it would be arrogance—it would be pride—to exalt your opinion above what God says.
All my life, I’d been taught not to brag about my accomplishments, not to be prideful. I’d been taught that pride is a terrible sin—and it is—but my definition (and application) of pride was not complete. My “humility” was actually a cover-up for pride. Well, not anymore!
I don’t know how long it will take to change these habits, but I’m determined not to allow anything in my life to exalt itself against the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)—not even my own “humility.”