Do we approach God in confession with a deep sense of false humility, but boldly holding on to the claim that he will forgive us because we know how sinful we are? My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
For me there are few things more personally provoking than false humility. When someone approaches me dripping with a disingenuous, self-denigrating attitude my disposition is to slap that person up the back of the head. “Really? Be real, don’t pretend that you’re humbled or brought down by something I know you really don’t care about. I would prefer honesty to this ruse.” While trying not to be a judge of what motivates a person to be overly humble, false humility exudes itself so from the edges of a person’s character that it’s hard to cover it up. People who prey on others with their mock humility are really the opposite of what they are pretending to be–conceited, filled with a deep sense of self regard that can’t be covered up with a tear, folded hands or wrinkled brow.
People who think that life is really all about them tend to be the worst offenders in this regard. They stand-out in a crowd because that’s their life’s predisposition. They want to be noticed and self-abasement is an attractive trait.
Here’s a story. Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman ever seated in the British House of Commons, encountered a lot of male antagonism – but proved herself capable of giving as well as receiving in that arena. Once, at a formal dinner, Lady Astor said to her neighbor that she considered men to be more conceited than women. Noticing that she had been heard around the table, she continued loudly: “It’s a pity that the most intelligent and learned men attach the least importance to the way they dress. Why, right at this table the most cultivated man is wearing the most clumsily knotted tie!” The words were scarcely out of her mouth before every man in the room secretly reached up to adjust his tie. (Today in the Word, May 9, 1992.)
Why did each of those men grab at their ties to straighten them out? Was it because they knew that their ties were wrongly knotted? I don’t think so. I believe that they reached for their ties because in pride they thought that Lady Astor was talking about them. That’s the height of conceit and they fell for Lady Astor’s ploy. What about us? Do we approach God every day with a deep sense of false humility in confessing our sins, but boldly holding on to the claim that he will forgive us because we know how sinful we are? Do we really know how sinful we are? Or, do we really have no good idea as to our depth of guilt? Put it this way, if God knows the depths of our sin, what right do we have to claim that same knowledge? I suspect we have little claim to know and shouldn’t pretend to. Our poor intellect in that regard is a roadblock to discovering how sinful we may be. Ultimately, the better man at that Parliament table would have been the one who simply smiled, nodded in the Lady’s direction and carried on humbled by the thought she was right. We would do well to do the same with our daily confession. Acknowledge the fact that God knows our sinfulness and he will forgive. That’s true humility, no need to straighten your tie and hope for the best. That’s in God’s hands.
We pray. Heavenly Father, it is difficult when we discover that in truth we really have no clue how sinful we are in your eyes. We often practice humility before you and this isn’t what you are looking for. Thank you Lord for your total forgiveness in Christ and your willingness to overlook our sins because of him. Help us to put false humility away when we are in your presence. Forgive us Lord, slap our spirit up, when we think we know what you know. In truth we never will. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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