Have we been taught to falsely degrade ourselves thinking this is humility?
Philippians 2:3-5 (Amp)
3 Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].
4 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. 5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
The Lie of False Humility
The truth is that Satan would love nothing more, than for you and I to misunderstand our value in the kingdom (and to God) by just slightly twisting this verse so that we emerge by putting down our self worth with a form of false humility, or a mild form of “self hatred”.
Let me explain: So many of us have been misguided to think that “putting ourselves down” is a form or being noble. “Self-degrading” or “self condemnation” is actually a way of defiling what God created (you and I), and was not the intent when the verse explains, “regard others as better than yourselves.” The truth is that there is no gain, in putting ourselves down with false humility and insulting what God created in us, in an attempt to try and agree with this verse and be viewed as an obedient humble Christian. In the Book of Genesis, Moses explains that God created the earth and all that was in it over 6 days, and six times He declared that “it is good”. As my kids would say “it’s all good!”! But once He had created Man and Woman on the sixth day, He then declared “it is very good!” The 21th Century translation, “He really liked what he created” on that day! The truth: He created Man and Woman in His image, He liked it, it was very good, and “God doesn’t create Junk!
But can you hear how human reasoning just slightly twists the truth of our identity as children of God, by getting us to believe sayings like “I’m just a wretch”, or “I’m just a sinner in God’s sight” – both of which are contrary to what scripture says about you and I. Scripture says if I belong to Christ, then I’m a son of God, a royal priest, a co-laborer with Jesus, and a friend of God – and it also says that God has forgotten my sins as far as the east is from the west, and that my sins are covered by the righteousness of Christ, and those sins are no longer seen by God.
Wow, that sure doesn’t sound like God thinks I’m a wretch or that He sees me as a sinner any more!! I think that’s an important revelation we all need to get! Besides, who dies on a cross, for a bunch of losers or for junk? Do you suppose maybe you and I have eternal value to God Almighty, because of who He is and that He created us, and not because of what we do in life? So many of us bought the lie that our value is based upon what we have or haven’t done in life, constantly condemning ourselves for “not adding up” or by comparing ourselves to what others have accomplished.
But God says our eternal value is based on who we are in relation to Him, as His children that He created, with an eternal destiny, predestined before time. And if that is true, can you understand why it’s so important to God, that if we fail to be redeemed back to His family through Christ, that He has lost a great treasure to “the God of free will”? The real tragedy here is when someone refuses to allow God to redeem them back into His family (to be born again), by refusing to accept Jesus’ free gift of redemption. When that happens, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers a great loss – it is eternally tragic in nature, but when we are redeemed, all of Heave rejoices!
Redemption is another topic for another day, but understanding our created value to God can help us to understand this verse in Philippians is not about humility based on eternal value; but it’s more about losing our selfish desires (our fallen nature) so that we can lift up, and serve others as Jesus did. For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for (instead of) many. Mark 10:45
The verses mentioned are not about “putting ourselves down” as many of us once interpreted, but they are in fact the exact opposite and show us how to go about “lifting others up” through unselfish love. That’s a really big difference that should help expose the original lie that “it’s humble to put ourselves down”!
If I’m honest, I have to admit that I walked in such a false humility in the past, in a weird way just to look like a “good Christian” by putting myself down. Hey, we all have shortcomings in this fallen state, but does that mean we aren’t good to God, or that we should somehow defile the good that God uniquely placed in each of us, to become falsely humble? I think not!
And if I’m even more honest, I think that doing so in the past, was actually deceitfully lazy in a way to remain selfish – in a sense, it was “the easy way out” not requiring me to give up any of my own desires, if I just fall short anyway! Hey, if I put myself down, then it lowers the standards of what’s expected of me right? Saying I was unworthy and “worth less” was actually a good way to avoid helping other people, and it also kept me in bondage to a somewhat “victim” mentality! In fact, doing so was actually a way of keeping the focus of life entirely on myself and not stepping up to think about or to love others….wow, what a scam I was believing! “I’m just a wretch, therefore can not offer anything good, and I can not offer love or help to anyone because I lack!”
I hate deception. What starts out and seems to sound right to be humble in such a way as the world so thinks, turns out is really still all about us in a twisted way, and not about lifting up others. Think about it, if you and I are called to be light in a dark world, how can we shine if we don’t even see or value, the good light that God placed in us? If I were the enemy, I’d try really hard to convince believers that we’re just a bunch of “wretches” who certainly have little value to be a light to other people, and certainly are not worth “shining our light”! In fact, we’re so wretched that maybe we should just keep a basket over our lights, since we’re not good enough to shine anyway right? Boy there sure are a lot of deceptions we think are good in this world that are contrary to God’s word and contrary to who he says we are in Christ.
But I thank God for His Word, and His truth that dispels such lies that tend to keep us in bondage. How lost are we when we spend so much time filling ourselves with the wisdom of the world, and we don’t spend time to understand God’s spiritual truths in the word (renewing our minds)? Scripture tells us “the wisdom of this world” is foolishness to God, and only God’s wisdom will endure eternity. Call me crazy, but it sounds like the only truths that should matter to us aren’t what the world tells us is wisdom, (the way that seems right to a man but leads to death), but the most important things to know are eternal, which just also happen to be God’s truths!
Now that I better understand my own value and identity in Christ, I can see this scripture in Philippians is far more about taking our eyes off of ourselves, and placing them on other people and their needs. That’s the Spirit of “humility” that Jesus walked in during His ministry here on earth, and what you and I are called to do as well.
For me personally, when my thinking transitioned to that mindset, I understood the difference between “doing works” that often left me grumbling and unfulfilled, and the difference of “surrendering my-self” so I could better help others through a heart of love which always fulfills me soul.
I learned there’s a huge difference between the two mindsets. One makes us tired, and the other fills us up, increasing our capacity for even more love and actually accomplishing more “good works” in the process! What a concept! I truly believe that from God’s perspective, it’s never about how much we did or how much we have done in life, but about how much we learned to love others. He said we would be known by our love, and how we loved each other in the body…..I think He was making a strong point for us to hear!
I also learned that “doing works” out of a “me” mindset has the capacity to cause offense and resentment in my heart, while “doing works” from a “surrendered heart” has the capacity to reveal God’s glory in me, producing works of love that build up the Kingdom. One comes from worldly thinking, the other comes from a Godly spirit of love. One is born of selfishness, the other of a hearts sacrifice. One comes from a life held tightly for ourselves, the other comes from a life surrendered and yielded for the sake of love, …a life given for Christ.
I truly believe when the world sees such love in us, it causes a stir in their own hearts, even if they don’t understand the source. We all recognize such selfless love and admire it. We were all wired for such love.
I think “no greater love than a man who gives his life for his friends” is somehow a “divine blueprint” for each of us! ….. John 15- 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
It’s been a huge revelation in my own life to see the power of the Gospel unfold, the more I surrender my will to His purposes. I may have a ways to go, but life somehow truly does become “abundant” in ways I never knew possible and I’ve honestly never experienced greater love, yet I know there is much more to experience, through the more I surrender to Christ!
Jesus said, “the truth will set us free.” Somehow I think we all are getting set free from “ourselves” to one degree or another, in the process of walking out our faith and living out His truth! Oh what a journey He sets us on if we truly step out in faith and trust our life to Him!
What an awesome God to send His Son to show us how it’s done! I am so thankful!
Be free, be blessed, become love…
May His love fill you!
Great article! Well said! In Christ our cup really overflows and loving others is easy.