Thursday, February 10, 2011

Humility as a Goal

Mark Driscoll noted something very striking to me in a recent sermon clip he posted on Facebook.  To paraphrase, he said that the remedy for pride is not humility.  When you realize you are proud, you do not say, "Well, I will become more humble, then.  So, let's try to be humble, shall we?"  The reason is because, although the goal seems worthy, in reality you are still all about you.  You are obsessed with yourself, now in regards to how "humble" you are.  Real humility is lack of self-obsession.  It is knowing our place in this universe and preferring God and others over ourselves.  To gain humility, Driscoll argues, we look at Jesus and get to know Jesus.  True humility is a byproduct of that.

Again, why?  Because of human nature.  A proud man would seek humility, and then become obsessed with his own humble-ness.  He would either stroke himself, believing he had reached greater humility than before (and greater than others). Or he would disdain himself, disappointed with his own poor performance.  In either case, he grows no more concerned with others and less mindful of self, not really.

I see that, for example, with the current pain and suffering in my life, humility makes a great goal because it yields more peace in my life.  A lot of my internal torture and pain is pride-related: rivalry, me not being able to handle rejection, me being obsessed with being the best and winning.  So, naturally, humility is attractive.  The moments, lately, when I have been humbled have yielded the fruit of peace and freedom.

But then something amazing happens.  Humility becomes the new goal -not for humility's sake or even God's sake, but because it gives me something for me.  I pursue it for it's pragmatic, even therapeutic value.  That isn't all bad.  It is not wrong to see that virtue yields freedom from the chains of sin in your own life.  But in very subtle ways, my pursuit shifts right back to me.

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