“Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought.” - Charles Spurgeon
I started serving in the youth ministry at 19. In retrospect, I was an immature kid with little self-knowledge, but God was gracious and patient with me—particularly when it came to how I viewed myself.
I remember having this false expectation that if I did well, I’d feel better about myself. Yet, there were times when I did perform well but didn’t feel good (not to mention the times I did poorly). One day, I decided to share these feelings with Pastor Terry. His response altered my perspective ever since.
He offered wisdom that his grandfather once gave him.
“The devil will always give you two lies. The first is that you’re the greatest. The second is that you’re the worst. Don’t believe either lie. You must anchor yourself in the truth that you’re deeply loved by God through Christ. Anchor your sense of self-worth in His love and let Him be your final evaluator.”
Pastor Terry was teaching me about the humble perspective. He was, in a sense, passing on what the Apostle Paul discovered when he told the Corinthians.
As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 (NLT)
Paul knew that God was his ultimate judge, One who saw everything more clearly than anyone, but One who was also filled with more grace than anyone because of Christ. This understanding grounded and buoyed Paul. Grounded him from being too elevated in his own mind, and buoyed him when the pressure of life sought to drag him under.
Within this humble perspective are three distinct truths.
1. Others only see the part of us we reveal. They cannot ever be 100% accurate. This should caution us from staking too much of our worth in the opinions of others and comfort us when we receive criticism.
2. We cannot judge ourselves accurately either—even if we believe we have the purist of motives. We’re far more complex, dynamic, and multi-faceted than we realize. In a sense, we’re on a never-ending journey of self-discovery, which implies we have blind spots and areas of self-knowledge yet to be discovered.
3. God alone judges accurately. It is a perspective that recognizes God—who is merciful, gracious, and kind—as the final authority over us.
To embrace a humble perspective is to step into a sober self-assessment. We are not deceived nor do we seek to deceive. We are motivated to increase our sense of integrity and wholeness. It leads us to wise decisions and courageous actions. It becomes a rigorously honest perspective that is not swept away by public opinion or drowned by criticism. It is a perspective that maintains steadiness through trials and victories by keeping us stable under pressure and thankful for good days.
Though I haven’t lived this out every day, I am grateful for the moments I have. Over time, and by God’s grace, I believe He calls all of us to live the humble perspective and benefit from the tremendous strength it provides.
May the Lord increase our capacity to walk in humility, thereby navigating the ups and downs of life with true strength.