Sunday (D.V.) I am preaching on the Daniel 4 and the “pride puzzle” seen in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. (Hit play at the end of this post if you need to know whether or not this post is about you. . .)
The puzzling part of pride is that we are powerless to combat it. Few want to be proud. There are exceptions like Muhammad Ali who never put a premium on humility. Yet, most know that the consequences of pride are severe.
It seems that it would be easy enough to tell ourselves to be humble. Yet, even capable and well-intentioned people walk precariously along the cliff of pride until they finally take a quick step over the edge. Case in point Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:33) or Herod (Acts 12:23) who was eaten by the worms.
Mac It’s Hard to be Humble Davis isn’t the only one finding it hard to be humble. Why is it that competent people, who are warned about their pride, and who want to be humble, are haughty right up to destruction? (Proverbs 16:18)
I am not posting on the heart of the answer yet, (though there is a strong hint here), but part of the reason we struggle to be biblically humble is that we misunderstand what true humility is like. Both C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton clear up a couple of misunderstandings about humility.
Chesterton said that we suffer from humility in the wrong place
But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason. Huxley preached a humility content to learn from Nature. But the new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. Thus we should be wrong if we had said hastily that there is no humility typical of our time. The truth is that there is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it is practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him, work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.” . . .
We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. (Orthodoxy, chapter 3)
C.S. Lewis adds that humility is not always talking down about self
Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is a nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap, who took a real interest in what you said to him.