I once heard humility defined as being yourself before God. I mentioned it last week in the context of holiness, and I’ve been thinking more this week about what it means in the context of sin.
These days, authenticity is arguably the highest cultural value we hold. There is a general expectation that we are free to be who-we-really-are without hesitation and without apology. We are so averse to phonies and charlatans that it’s hardly believable that people might, on occasion, have good intentions or just do what’s right. We want authenticity to look broken and flawed–and also totally content. It’s the “this-is-who-I-am-accept-it-or-move-on” attitude.
It’s a spiritually stagnant attitude because while it allows for flaws, it doesn’t offer any form of healing. Change is considered inauthentic.
Of course, there is also a conflicting cultural current that dictates that we must all fit into perfect categories or present ourselves in a particular manner with lots of shame and apologizing when we don’t meet whatever standard Facebook or Hollywood or some political party has set for us. Heaven forbid you’re a young woman who votes conservative or a mother who doesn’t live and breathe attachment parenting or a middle-aged woman who doesn’t care about wrinkles.
This, too, is spiritually harmful because it leads us to despairing ungratefulness.
But these are just opposite tricks of the devil in his never-ending quest to keep us off the real path. As soon as we start to glimpse the deep reality of our own sinful brokenness, he turns our head either one way or the other. We feel a twinge of guilt and he says, “Don’t go there. This is who you really are. Be authentic.” We start to live content with the lot we’ve been given, and immediately, there he is telling us, “How could you think that you are just fine? Look at how much better other people are than you. Look at how you don’t live up!”
Dear ones, don’t listen.
The real question is: Can we be ourselves–in a real sense–before the Lord? Can we stand before Him without the burden of shame and without arrogance? Without pretense and without excuses? Can we say, “Lord, here I am, flaws and all. Sometimes I think I don’t deserve Your love. Sometimes I take it for granted. Have mercy on me.”
Somewhere in that space is the beginning of humility.