Less Self

By Alan Wright — April 15, 2019

Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.

Today’s Text:Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18–19, ESV)

The biblical idea of humility doesn’t conflict with genuine inward esteem. There is a difference between pride and healthy confidence. We don’t defeat pride by settling for a mediocre existence.

The ancient Greeks depicted Icarus as the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. In an effort to escape from Crete, the father made his son a set of wings using feathers and wax. Icarus’ father warned the lad not to fly too high or too low. If the boy flew too low, the sea’s dampness would clog the wings. If Icarus flew too high, the sun would melt the wax. Ignoring his father’s counsel, the boy flew too high, the wax melted and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea.

Some think that the biblical solution to pride is to fly at a moderate altitude. Don’t fly too high; don’t feel too good about yourself. But, on the other hand, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just stay in the psychological middle and you’ll avoid the equal and opposite dangers of pride and self-condemnation.

But the biblical understanding of authentic humility isn’t found in flying high or low. As C.S. Lewis suggested, true humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. The soul that is soaked with Gospel self-worth isn’t thinking of self much at all. As Tim Keller has pointed out, you only think about your big toe if it’s hurting. Likewise, you only think about your ego if it’s wounded.

Life in Christ heals the wounded ego. The assurances of God’s love and acceptance through the gift of Christ secure our souls with confidence that, whether we fly high or low, we are beloved and safe forever in God’s arms. Such knowledge makes us both confident and humble. And that’s the Gospel!

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