Saturday, May 15, 2010

Humility 2: Follow Your Nose?

I said last time that the common view of humility is false: humility does not deny itself, and it does not decrease our self-knowledge so we only have humility when we don't realize it. So what is real humility, and how does it work?

I'll tell you a secret: I can see my nose.

Not the whole thing, of course, but most of it. And I doubt I'm especially blessed in this regard. You don't need a long or large nose to see it. And all going well, you can see past the end of your nose, which is like seeing the forest for the trees.

So what?

Simply this: again, no doubt like you, I am humble about my nose. Some people may be obsessed with the protuberance, thinking it either beautiful or ugly, but most of us probably don't think much about it.

That's the point.

I can go for amazingly long periods without noticing the thing, usually because I'm looking at something else--words on a page, vehicles on the road, and so forth. But it's there, and I know it. I can shift my attention to or from it at will.

That's humility. I've had a few moments when I realized, to my surprise, that I was being humble. Now, I often ruined it by wanting to advertise the fact. But sometimes I would just think, "Huh. That's interesting." Then I returned to the matter at hand.

If you are humble, you do not lack self-knowledge but self-absorption. A humble person can be aware of his own humility without feeling any urge to publicize it. "Look at me--I'm humble!" is wrong not because of the last clause but because of the first. A humble Christian will always say, "Look at Jesus!"

But then, a humble Christian will always be looking at Jesus, not at his own nose.

1 comment:

driftwood said...

Ok so when someone asks you, "Are you humble?" You'll answer, "Look at Jesus"?

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