The freedom of self-forgetfulness
Want to experience true joy? Don't think less of yourself. Think of yourself less.
I have never understood what humility means, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
I used to think it meant to put yourself down or belittle yourself.
But that's not it.
In his marvelous little book, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, Timothy Keller gives an amazing picture of what humility looks like for Christians and what pride truly is.
And when we understand the difference between pride and humility, we'll discover the path to true Christian joy.
I want to look at just a couple things in this book about humility. But, you MUST check out this book. For all you non-readers out there, it's only 50 pages. Short and sweet.
Pride puts YOU first
Pride in essence is all about self. It's what causes us to compare ourselves to others.
It's all about me, myself and I.
Pride is empty, painful, busy, and fragile. It's empty because it has nothing at it's center, painful because it has something wrong with it, busy because it's constantly pointing to self, and fragile because it's in danger of being deflated.
C.S. Lewis says, "For pride is a spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense."
In the end, pride will just make us feel insecure, inadequate and unhappy because we'll never be good enough.
So what's the solution?
Humility puts GOD first
Humility is not about putting yourself down or even being quiet.
Humility is self-forgetfulness. It's not thinking less or more of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Humility is putting value on what God says about you rather than others.
Humility is thinking of what others need instead of yourself.
Humility is the solution, because it reminds us of who we truly are. We are God's children, loved and accepted through Jesus.
Finding freedom through self-forgetfulness
God's view is the only one that matters. Keller says:
"You see, the verdict is in. And now I perform on the basis of the verdict. Because He loves me and He accepts me, I do not have to do things just to build up my resume. I do not have to do things to make me look good. I can do things for the joy of doing them....
With every other form of identity and every other 'badge' or accolade we might award ourselves, it is always a case of the verdict coming from the performance....
But in Christianity, the verdict can give you the performance. As Keller puts it:
As our substitute, He took the condemnation we deserve; He faced the trial that should be ours so that we don't have to face anymore trials. So I simply need to ask God to accept me because of what the Lord Jesus has done. Then, the only person whose opinion counts looks at me and He finds me more valuable than all the jewels in the earth.
His verdict does not depend on our performance, as all other ways of acceptance do. No, the verdict is dependent on what Christ did on the cross.
We can practice humility because of the verdict Christ gave us on the cross. He sees us as precious, so we don't need to flaunt our prideful, self-glorifying deeds to seek acceptance.
I challenge you today to cultivate humility. Think of God and others more, and yourself less.
If you do, you'll find true freedom from the emptiness and pain of pride.