Humility is a subject of great interest to Christians and philosophers (which by definition Christians should be since we are indeed interested in the wisdom of God and loving God who is wisdom, thus Christian, philosopher, and Theophilus should be rather synonymous) alike. Even writing about the subject I find myself at odds to presume wisdom on the subject being a fallen man with a propensity towards pride, the antithesis of humility. But I will offer my thoughts anyhow. Entire books have been written on the subject, and a full treatise on the subject will never be offered by humanity, but I do think that I may have a perspective on it that few have considered. Maybe it is that I have gleaned this perspective from those wiser than I somewhere in the past, or from God more directly, but either way I do not claim the idea as my own. I simply want to approach humility in terms of perspective, mainly self-perspective.
Many people in practice see humility and self-degradation as more or less synonymous. It is because humanity is fallen, so humility requires us to recognize our weaknesses, failures, and inabilities to meet that standard set forth by Christ and fulfill our calling as ambassadors of God. A humble man admits his mistakes while a prideful man denies them. Few of us stop there however. We begin to degrade ourselves and deny those things that aren't mistakes and admit things that we haven't erred in because we think by doing so we are being humble. We have bought into the lie that the lower we make ourselves, the more humble we are. After all, isn't humility one of the highest virtues we espouse in Christendom? But heres the rub, when we begin to degrade what God has made as less than it is (for that is what we are, creations of God), then we insult the maker and therefore are not glorifying God but rather degrading His character. By the very fact that we are created in the image of God we carry innate quality and worth, not of ourselves, but because of the one who has made us. We have the worth that God has imputed to us through creating us and furthermore by the price he paid for us on the cross. After all, something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it right? Therefore we are of infinite worth because of the infinite price paid by Jesus for us. We need to keep this in perspective in our view of humility. I think the proper way to approach humility is to have an accurate view of ourselves. Humility admits faults, but also does not deny the truth of our worth. Jesus, while on Earth, did not ever deny who he was. He became man, yes, which is a role or position lower than He really is. And we are called to do likewise, but he never claimed to be something he wasn't nor did he ever deny his nature, worth, purpose, and mission. Likewise we must not deny our nature (which is both fallen and created in the image of God), worth, purpose, and mission namely to glorify God. Ultimately it is a matter of perspective. Men have many different perspectives, all of which are inaccurate to varying degrees. So what does a humility that seeks to have an accurate view of ourselves, others, creation, and God require of us? It requires that we come to know God's perspective and align ourselves ever closer to it. This means admitting our faults, sins, mistakes, or any other way you want to label our misgivings, and acting accordingly. It requires admitting our worth, purpose, and mission as God perceives and acting accordingly. It also means having God's perspective in regards to our roles and positions. God's hierarchy is different from man's. In man's perspective a servant is among the lowest positions, but in God's hierarchy the servant becomes first. We are almost all familiar with the verse, "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." So then, as I see it, the key to humility is seeing the world and ourselves through God's eyes, then we will see clearly and show true humility.
Before I sign off I'd like to present a little conundrum I find myself in. As I seek to glorify God I want to decrease as He increases in others lives. But there is a natural correlation between how well known God is and how well known a person who is His ambassador among men. You see, I wish I could be remembered only in the sense that I brought Christ along with me (though to be theologically accurate, it is I who tag along with Christ) and introduced people to their Savior, but beyond that people wouldn't really remember me. I imagine two men sitting outside a rural home on someplace like Africa having a conversation like this: Man 1: "Hey, can you remember the name of that fella that introduced us to Jesus?" Man 2: ". . . .No, not really, but I'm sure glad he did." I need nothing more to be remembered of me through history. But if thats really how it goes down in the future I would be angry with myself because I would have only been in their lives for a short time for them to easily forget and therefore have a poor witness. Furthermore the larger the impact a person has on peoples' lives, the more they are remembered. So although I wish I wouldn't be remembered so that only Christ was, ultimately for Him to be remembered I must be too. Not that this whole scenario is even plausible. These are just some thoughts that go through my head sometimes when I ponder humility.
For His Glorious Name,