Humility is the highway for spiritual growth, but too many counterfeits are in action. In fact, there is a false humility on the lose that is giving people the wrong model of what it looks like to walk in true humility.
Real humility is not something you can fabricate. It only comes through an authentic process with God. When you carry it, the humble heart shines through because of the journey you have been on.
Sometimes we see so few examples of true humility we don’t know what it looks like when it manifests. Because of this, most people think that rejecting and hating on themselves with contempt is a spiritual attribute.
We often think the more someone demeans themselves, the humbler they are. This is a false humility.
Self-rejection has nothing to do with humility. And it will work overtime to remain hidden, using religious practices or Scriptures out of context to keep from exposing the fact that millions are believing its lies.
We Often Spiritualize Things to Cover Up How We Don’t Like Ourselves
Growing up, the common phrases to spiritualize this dysfunction was, “He must increase, I must decrease” as a way to never truly accept encouragement from others. “It wasn’t me it was the Lord” is another classic way to deflect genuine relational connection from others.
I took the bait for years. When people encouraged me, I deflected it back, thinking I was being humble. I never saw that I was uncomfortable with loving interaction because I didn’t like myself. When I knelt before God, the more I painfully held myself in contempt, the more I thought it would get God’s attention. I actually thought beating myself up was a great spiritual exercise.
Courage to See the Cover Up
Can we have enough courage to admit what we often call humility is really a work of self-hate and self-rejection?
Of course, bringing up this issue can cause a lot of kickback because of what it confronts in people’s hearts. It takes a true humble heart to discern self-rejection, because if someone else tries to point it out, it often does not go very well. Defense mechanisms will kick up like crazy!
We all have experiences of being around people who were genuinely filled with pride and arrogance. We then sought to avoid being prideful at all costs, but it often landed in a pit of self-rejection.
When you don’t like yourself, you can be drawn to people who beat themselves up while calling it humility. Dogging on who you are is not humility, but a counterfeit.
Clichés that Cover Up Our Brokenness
False humility does not want others to see that we truly do not like ourselves, so we become trained to clothe our self-hatred in a fabrication. In church settings, these fabrications can come out in people in the form of Scriptural sayings that, when used out of context, become clichés.
What we really mean is “I can’t handle a compliment. I don’t feel comfortable receiving your love, so I will deflect it back, but try to sound spiritual.” I love a well known pastor’s response to someone who said to him, “It wasn’t me it was the Lord…” His reply, “Well…it wasn’t that good!”
We say things like “He must increase, I must decrease” and “I need to kill my flesh” yet they too often become statements of hate and contempt against ourselves. In the process of hating our battles, we have turned against ourselves too.
True Humility Carries Confidence
David was outraged at how Goliath was bullying the people and dishonoring his God. His brothers, who lacked confidence were backing down in fear. Their cowardice was confronted by David’s confidence.
Yet David’s brothers considered their posture as healthy and David’s confidence as arrogance. His behind the scenes process with God produced true humility. But when people saw him, they considered his confidence as pride.
Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle. 1 Samuel 17:28
Did you catch that? People with insecurity see true people of humility as being full of pride.
People of real humility have a lot of confidence in who God is inside them. They have submitted to His leadership and steward the confidence they have gained through personal process. They don’t hate who they are but say “yes and amen” to who God made them to be. They are grateful that God operates within them and they don’t need to flaunt anything to get validation.
But when the time arises, those who are humble will confidently address the issues at hand.
The brothers accuse David of being filled with pride and wickedness, when really he was being confident in the Lord! His confidence and faith in God were confronting their lack of confidence and self-rejecting thoughts.
They just wanted to throw in the towel and take defeat. Because of David’s confidence in God and who God made him to be, he stepped up to the challenge and forever became known as a giant killer.
I Am Wonderfully Made!
David also carried a dynamic revelation of appreciating who God made him to be as a wonderful creation. One day, as David is penning one of the most brilliant Psalms of all time, he takes notice of himself and gains a greater revelation of God’s greatness!
Wait . . . Can you imagine that? David was getting an appreciation of God’s character by getting a look at himself in the mirror? He wrote:
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. Psalms 139:14
He says “I praise You.” Why? Because I am wonderfully made, to the point that it causes me to fall into deep reverence for who You are God! Stop and catch this. David understood God better and gained a greater appreciation of the Creator by looking at his reflection!
We were made in the image of God. So when we look at our reflection, it was intended for us to admire the power and creativity of God as our creator.
When was the last time you got a deeper glimpse of God by looking at your reflection? For most it seems impossible, because we have been conditioned by self-rejection and never fully accept ourselves. We don’t know how to celebrate our lives because we were never celebrated. People didn’t give compliments because they were afraid we would become arrogant.
Self-rejection has not even allowed us to consider what great things we can learn about God by looking at His wonderful creation–us! Oh yes, we can open our science book and go, “What a great God,” but when it comes to actually appreciating our own created bodies, we squirm and change the subject. Breaking out of self-rejection involves appreciating, accepting and affirming who we are as God’s wonderful creation.
But I Don’t Want to Be Prideful
So many people I work with express their fear that if they love themselves as God loves them, they will enter into a realm of pride. They fail to realize that self-rejection is actually a form of spiritual “pride” clothed as false humility. It bucks the love and acceptance of God. Self-rejection takes the love and beauty God offers us and rejects it, pushing it back and never allowing us to enter into the true blessing.
So What do we do?
1. We cannot continue to insult, demean and put down ourselves and call it humility.
True humility comes from a place of understanding the greatness of God that came and manifested to somebody like me. It creates awe, submission and gratitude. I have learned to appreciate who he made me to be; even down to how I look and how I sound. I didn’t live that way most of my life.
I used to stand in front of the mirror and condemn everything I did not like about my body. I hated looking in the mirror or seeing a picture of myself. I let the harsh words of others stay with me, keeping me focused on my flaws and perceived inadequacies.
2. Live in gratitude of how God made you and what is available in your life.
One of the greatest ways we can engage love is to engage gratitude that it is available for us.
Coming out of self-rejection has become an intentional process of transformation for me. I realized one day that I was throwing back the beautiful things God was placing in my life, and then was left wondering why I was stuck. I needed to accept myself once and for all, learning to become my own best friend instead of my worst enemy.
I am grateful every day that God uses me. I’m grateful when somebody gets healed or when I get to turn the light on in someone’s thinking. I am grateful! Why? Because I look to God and say, “You’re so good! Thanks for working in and through me! I’m just so appreciative of Your love and Your goodness in my life!” I couldn’t truly appreciate this great God if I am rejecting the beauty of who He made me to be.
The very nature of self-rejection does not allow you to celebrate who God made you to be and live with excitement out of your identity . .. .it causes you to spend a lot of time ignoring who you are and coming up with fabrications or images of what you think people need to see…when in reality the most beautiful and powerful you can be is yourself….
When we love and value who we are as God’s creation, we are giving praise to the Creator. When we admire a beautiful piece of art, this gives credit to a talented artist. If I look at a painting that I like, I don’t look at it and say, “Man, what a beautiful painter!” I look at that painting and I say, “That is a nice piece of art!”
It is assumed that when I celebrate the painting, I am celebrating the painter! I am giving credit to the artist. If someone looks at a Picasso painting and celebrates the beauty of it, saying “That is a gorgeous piece of art,” what are they celebrating? Are they applauding the picture? No, they are celebrating the one who designed it.
3. Celebrate God’s powerful design of you.
In breaking out of self-rejection, we have to learn to accept and celebrate ourselves, for it gives honor and praise to the almighty Creator. We must learn to celebrate people, for it pleases God and gives us a greater appreciation for His power!
When was the last time you celebrated the life God gave you?
4. Break agreement with the pride that rejects God’s love for you.
Can we consider that it is pride to reject the love that God has for us?
I think that we may need to humble ourselves and remove the pride of rejecting ourselves and not allowing love to take root in how we see ourselves. If God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, it’s my journey to come into agreement with that.
God loves me and He designed me to be at peace with myself. I cannot resist that and also justify it. It’s time we learn to be our best friend and not an hateful enemy of ourselves anymore.
You were made to be loved, to love in love…and to love yourself as God loves you.
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