When I was being assessed to be a church planter I had to take a personality test…my favorite question was this one:
Precisely how are you supposed to score your own humility? If I say I am very humble, am I? If I say I am not very humble, am I?
However, humility and its opposite pride, are pivotal to our faith. As Augustine and CS Lewis explain: Pride is the root of all sin, yet rarely do we acknowledge it. Interestingly, pride shows up 68 times in scripture. Just for comparison, Sexual immorality shows up 5, drunkenness 7 times, and gossip 5. (Now frequency does not make one issue less sinful, but shows what our hearts struggle with more).
The reason is that pride is the root problem of our lives. It is precisely what got Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden; it is what ruined Judas’ relationship with Jesus; its what caused the downfall of Nero and the financial meltdown of 2008.
EGO means we “edge God out” because we place ourselves in place of God.
Tim Keller in his little book “The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness” details the problem of EGO. He says an ego is empty, painful, busy and fragile. Our ego’s have to constantly be nourished so we wear ourselves out with the insatiable need to prove to others and ourselves we are good enough.
In 1 Corinthians 4:3 we see the confidant humility of Paul, who writes, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.” Paul’s ego does not need to be fed by the appeal of humans or even by his own self-esteem. He no longer has to struggle with a life that has edged God out, because he has discovered the love of God in Jesus Christ.
As we prepare for Christ’s birth and Christmas, I am reminded of Joseph’s story who was a righteous man and wanted to divorce Mary quietly–edge God out of his life–but it took a divine intervention for him to see a new life God was calling him to embrace. And Joseph revealed a humble man who did not want to edge God out of his life to retain his self-righteousness and public image, but was willing to forgo the status to raise the infant Christ.
So how humble are you? Are you edging God out of your life, or are you learning how to forget yourself more and more each day? Practically what does that look like?