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Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7).
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal 4:4-7).
When pastors introduce their spouses, I am very often annoyed. They very often do something that I think they haven’t thought through fully, and it ends up undermining everything they’re trying to say. It’s something that I see mainly among male pastors; I can’t think of a time that I’ve heard a female pastor do this.
When a male pastor introduces or talks about his wife, he so often talks about how much better she is than him. To illustrate his point, he’ll talk about how dumb/incompetent/whatever he is, and then make some exclamation about how he has no idea why she’s with him.
It drives me nuts. Because what is he saying about his wife? That he tricked her into being with him? That she’s incompetent in choosing her own spouse? I mean, she chose him.
Guys do this to try to express to their audience how awesome their wife is, but if you think about it, they’re really dragging both of them down. In insulting themselves, they insult the wife they’re trying to build up.
Why can’t they just say, “This is my amazing wife. She’s so amazing because [reasons] and I’m tremendously proud and humbled that she chose me.” That, to me, is far more effective in building up your spouse.
This is something in church culture that seems to be widely accepted: that in order to build others up, we tear ourselves down. But if it’s not okay to tear someone else down to build yourself up, why should it be okay to tear yourself down to build others up?
When you do this, you aren’t really building others up anyway. You’re saying “They’re better than me,” but if you tear yourself down, that’s not saying much.
It’s false humility.
And what’s more, when you tear yourself down, you’re insulting a child of God. It doesn’t matter that the child of God is you: you’re still insulting God’s daughter or son.
Why would that ever be okay?
It’s a simple misapplication of God’s Word. God loves humility. Romans 12:3 may say not to think more of yourself than you ought, but that doesn’t mean you need to think you have no value.
True humility isn’t regarding yourself has having no value. True humility recognizes that you have value—not because you’ve earned it, but because God values you. Just like God values everyone else.
Do you really believe God values you? Because he does. He listens to you. He came like you so you could become like him. He died for you. He loves you!
How dare you insult him like that?
Because when you tear yourself down, you’re insulting God. God chose you. God looked at you, knowing everything about you, and said that you are worth dying for. How dare you tell people that you have no value?
Another thing that’s common in church culture is to give all our wins to God and take all our failures as our own. And it’s because of the same thing: false humility. We don’t dare say we’ve accomplished something because that would be prideful, right? But God can’t fail, so any failure must be our own.
And you’re right: God doesn’t fail. But neither does God always get his way. Jesus said it himself: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).
Here’s the thing: God works with you. God enables you to do things. All things are possible for you because of Christ.
When you’ve worked hard with God, and it goes really well, it’s okay to admit it. So often, people say, “It was all God.” Yet if you didn’t cooperate, if you didn’t work hard, it wouldn’t have happened.
It’s okay to say, “God did an amazing thing with me.”
Give God his credit. And don’t discredit yourself. That’s false humility.
These are two hugely prevalent things in American church culture. But that doesn’t mean you can just go with them.
Don’t tear yourself down to lift others up. It’s wrong, and it doesn’t do anything anyway.
Don’t discredit yourself. Give God his praise and, in humility, accept that you’ve done a good job, too.
All views expressed on this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.