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Gingersnap
07-29-2008, 11:05 PM
Humility is a Christian virtue and one that has been examined and discussed for centuries. This thread is to discuss the nature of humility within the Christian framework.

How does Christian humility differ from the secular idea of humility? Are humble people constrained from opinion? Is it "humble" to be a doormat? How does the idea of humble behavior differ from secular ideas about low self-esteem and other-directed behavior? Is humility a source of pride for some? Or is humble behavior itself a source of unrest for others when they witness it? Can humility inspire envy? Is it even a virtue worth having in this day and age?

Discuss. Nicely. :)

nacho
07-30-2008, 05:58 AM
Humility is a Christian virtue and one that has been examined and discussed for centuries. This thread is to discuss the nature of humility within the Christian framework.

How does Christian humility differ from the secular idea of humility? Are humble people constrained from opinion? Is it "humble" to be a doormat? How does the idea of humble behavior differ from secular ideas about low self-esteem and other-directed behavior? Is humility a source of pride for some? Or is humble behavior itself a source of unrest for others when they witness it? Can humility inspire envy? Is it even a virtue worth having in this day and age?

Discuss. Nicely. :)

What a very interesting subject.

As a person, I take humility to be the wisdom of understanding how small we each are in relation to our universe. I think anyone can feel this no matter their religious beliefs or lack thereof. It's almost inevitable, when one thinks of how many things are bigger than us and out of our control. As a Christian, I take humility to be the wisdom of understanding how small I am in relation to my God. This is similar to the awe that creates a secular humility, but that comes from thinking about God and God's saving work, rather than, say, the cosmos.

Humility is definitely worthwhile, as much as ever. To me it is the only reins on that mother of all sin, pride. Pride that tells me I should think of myself first, and from there it can only wind up in sin. Humility checks that, admittedly not all the time, and reminds me I'm just another person, under the same commandments as anyone else. It also reminds me to be thankful for what I have, and to be patient with what I don't, because--again--I'm just another person: other people go through hardships, and many of them make mine look rather minor.

While I haven't answered all your questions, these are just the thoughts that immediately spring to mind.

samurai
07-30-2008, 06:29 AM
Here are a few of my thoughts, from the POV of an agnostic: I don't see pride as always a sin or humility as always a virtue. Like many things in life, I think you need to have a balance. I think you should feel pride in yourself and your accomplishments, your family, hometown, and country, etc. But it needs to be a realistic pride. By that, I mean a justifiable pride in the good things, while not being fanatical or blind to the things that can be improved upon. If you are truly a good musician, artist, athlete, father/mother/brother/sister/child, etc, you should recognize that, and give yourself a bit of a pat on the back, stand up proudly, have confidence, and recognize that you do have talents, etc. Don't get too big a head about it and don't brag too much, don't think you are better than other people, and don't forget that others all have their good points too.

That is the humility part of things... remember that while you may have strengths and good features, you also have weak areas that need improvement. No one is perfect.

What I don't like is these new age self-esteem stuff they are teaching kids nowadays, because it utterly fails the realism test. It teaches that everyone is good at everything, and no one should keep score in sports because it'll make the losing team feel bad. It is instilling a false sense of pride that is not accompanied by the balancing humility, and it isn't based in real accomplishments achieved through hard work, dedication, and a chance of failure... and without those things, why should they feel any justifiable pride in accomplishing it?

It's almost 3:30 in the morning here, I'm off to bed... I hope what I said here made some sense. If not, I can try to refine it in the morning.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 07:17 AM
Humility is a necessary part of Christian life and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Beatitudes teach us of the necessity of humility. Without humility we tend to put our will ahead of the Father's will which creates discard between the Creator and the created. Sin and evil first arose from this discord and humility allows us to restore the harmony (to some degree) between God and fallen man. It also make it easier to live out the other commands that Christ spoke of such as love your neighbor and pray for your enemy. It would be impossible to do these things without humility.

Pride, the opposite of humility, is the worst of all sins. As C. S. Lewis stated, it is the sin that tolerates no rival sin. It is the sin that leads to all other sins and true humility is its enemy. I believe that the secular world, however, has a misconception of humility. Moses was considered humble but the bible shows that his humility didn't force him to stand silent in front of opposition. Jesus was the standard of humility but he displayed his fierceness in the temple with the money changers.

Humility does not mean cowardice. It means accepting will of God as one’s own and putting His desires ahead of your own.

noonwitch
07-30-2008, 09:00 AM
Humility is a recognition that God's grace is not just for you alone, but for all of humankind.

samurai
07-30-2008, 12:35 PM
Humility is a necessary part of Christian life and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Beatitudes teach us of the necessity of humility. Without humility we tend to put our will ahead of the Father's will which creates discard between the Creator and the created. Sin and evil first arose from this discord and humility allows us to restore the harmony (to some degree) between God and fallen man. It also make it easier to live out the other commands that Christ spoke of such as love your neighbor and pray for your enemy. It would be impossible to do these things without humility.

Pride, the opposite of humility, is the worst of all sins. As C. S. Lewis stated, it is the sin that tolerates no rival sin. It is the sin that leads to all other sins and true humility is its enemy. I believe that the secular world, however, has a misconception of humility. Moses was considered humble but the bible shows that his humility didn't force him to stand silent in front of opposition. Jesus was the standard of humility but he displayed his fierceness in the temple with the money changers.

Humility does not mean cowardice. It means accepting will of God as one’s own and putting His desires ahead of your own.

Wouldn't a better word be "submission" or "supplication" then? There is no way to truly know what God wants, if there is a god. Every religion in the world has claimed to know what God/the Gods want, and were sure they were correct. Different holy books, sects, and religious leaders around the world and through all time have never conclusively proven that their permutation of their faith is the 1 true way. Many of those religions existed for thousands of years. Isn't it a form of Pride to announce that one's religion is the 1 true religion, and that any who do not believe in it will not be saved? (And that goes for all religions).

Hence, when someone believes that it is not their will that they are following, but that of some god, they are in fact elevating their own beliefs above those of all other people, because theirs are divine while all others are mere fictions, or at best pale reflections of the 1 true Word of God. When such a person looks at themselves, they may see humility, but how do they feel about others of different faiths who are just as self-assured that their religion is the only real one? Would they not see that as false Pride?

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 01:29 PM
Wouldn't a better word be "submission" or "supplication" then? There is no way to truly know what God wants, if there is a god. Every religion in the world has claimed to know what God/the Gods want, and were sure they were correct. Different holy books, sects, and religious leaders around the world and through all time have never conclusively proven that their permutation of their faith is the 1 true way. Many of those religions existed for thousands of years. Isn't it a form of Pride to announce that one's religion is the 1 true religion, and that any who do not believe in it will not be saved? (And that goes for all religions).

Hence, when someone believes that it is not their will that they are following, but that of some god, they are in fact elevating their own beliefs above those of all other people, because theirs are divine while all others are mere fictions, or at best pale reflections of the 1 true Word of God. When such a person looks at themselves, they may see humility, but how do they feel about others of different faiths who are just as self-assured that their religion is the only real one? Would they not see that as false Pride?


Submission is the act but one cannot willingly submit without humility. As for not knowing what God wants. God speaks to me via the Bible, my prayers and often through other people. The Bible to me is the true word of God because I can read and validate the truth that it contains. I can read about not murdering, lying, coveting and not committing adultery and I understand why God defined them as sins. Nothing good ever comes about because of their commission. God spelled out 10 things He wants of us in the Old Testament and then Christ expanded upon them in the New Testament. In short the Old Testament provided us with the letter of the law and the New Testament with the spirit of the law. I do not find fault with them. This does not prove the existence of God but it does validate that the Bible has a moral good to it.

It would be beyond the scope of this thread to go in to the philosophical debate over the existence of God but if you're curious I would suggest reading some of the works of Plato, Kant, Kierkegarrd, Augustine, Pascal and Aquinas. They will present many of the same arguments I will and do so with greater eloquence.

As for being prideful in stating that my religion is the true one? I don't recall saying that it was. I know in my heart that it is but I prefer to let others find that truth for themselves. If you want to discuss my reasons then that is a whole different topic.

Was my response in this thread in some way betraying that I was prideful or boastful about my religious convictions? I was merely answering a question about humility. Would you consider it prideful if you were about to jump in to a lake and I offered you a life preserver because I knew about an undertow that you weren't aware of? Should I just keep my mouth shut and let you drown? A so consider this as well, as you point out there are a lot of beliefs claiming to be the correct set. Now if you ever establish the fact for yourself that God is real then one of those may really be the true belief and you're going to need to be able to discern it.

Goldwater
07-30-2008, 03:12 PM
Humility does not mean cowardice. It means accepting will of God as one’s own and putting His desires ahead of your own.

Humility is open to those who do not believe in God too, hence it does not mean accepting God, it can be a religious value, but it is not one at the core. Humility is being unpretentious and honest to yourself and those around you.

LogansPapa
07-30-2008, 03:50 PM
Jesus washing His disciples feet - any greater humility than that?

samurai
07-30-2008, 03:55 PM
Submission is the act but one cannot willingly submit without humility. As for not knowing what God wants. God speaks to me via the Bible, my prayers and often through other people. The Bible to me is the true word of God because I can read and validate the truth that it contains. I can read about not murdering, lying, coveting and not committing adultery and I understand why God defined them as sins. Nothing good ever comes about because of their commission. God spelled out 10 things He wants of us in the Old Testament and then Christ expanded upon them in the New Testament. In short the Old Testament provided us with the letter of the law and the New Testament with the spirit of the law. I do not find fault with them. This does not prove the existence of God but it does validate that the Bible has a moral good to it.

It would be beyond the scope of this thread to go in to the philosophical debate over the existence of God but if you're curious I would suggest reading some of the works of Plato, Kant, Kierkegarrd, Augustine, Pascal and Aquinas. They will present many of the same arguments I will and do so with greater eloquence.

As for being prideful in stating that my religion is the true one? I don't recall saying that it was. I know in my heart that it is but I prefer to let others find that truth for themselves. If you want to discuss my reasons then that is a whole different topic.

Was my response in this thread in some way betraying that I was prideful or boastful about my religious convictions? I was merely answering a question about humility. Would you consider it prideful if you were about to jump in to a lake and I offered you a life preserver because I knew about an undertow that you weren't aware of? Should I just keep my mouth shut and let you drown? A so consider this as well, as you point out there are a lot of beliefs claiming to be the correct set. Now if you ever establish the fact for yourself that God is real then one of those may really be the true belief and you're going to need to be able to discern it.

I wasn't trying to attack you or your statements. I tried to omit as many references to the general "you" as possible, and speak instead about "someone who believes or does this". I am interested in hearing about your views on pride and humility, and how the relate to religious or secular beliefs and people differently.

Perhaps its because I don't believe in a religion, so when I think of "having faith in something", to me it means "I hope, fear, or believe that I may be right about something that I can't prove." It is a hunch, a feeling. It may be based on experience, observation and interpretation, or merely an understanding of the way things tend to go, but it's not cold, hard, indisputable fact.

When you talk about KNOWING that there is an undercurrent and the person will need a life preserver, that is, to me, faith bolstered by pride into a certainty when in fact it is a belief, an unprovable hunch or feeling. You don't know, for a fact, that there is an undertow there, you are taking it on faith. And when I speak of faith here, it's not limited to religion, secular people fall into the same trap... IMO, it is little different from anthropogenic global warming alarmists who believe with absolute certainty that they are right, and they have "evidence" to back them up. But IMO, their pride magnifies that belief, in their minds, into incontrovertible fact. If they had more humility, they'd realize that it is only a belief, not a proven fact, that they espouse.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 04:03 PM
Humility is open to those who do not believe in God too, hence it does not mean accepting God, it can be a religious value, but it is not one at the core. Humility is being unpretentious and honest to yourself and those around you.

Did I say that I say that it wasn't? I was answering the question in the context of the topic which is "What is the nature of Christian Humility"

Goldwater
07-30-2008, 04:48 PM
Did I say that I say that it wasn't? I was answering the question in the context of the topic which is "What is the nature of Christian Humility"

I was saying that it is the same as "secular" humility, just without reference to God.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 04:53 PM
I wasn't trying to attack you or your statements. I tried to omit as many references to the general "you" as possible, and speak instead about "someone who believes or does this". I am interested in hearing about your views on pride and humility, and how the relate to religious or secular beliefs and people differently.

That is fair and I can get behind that. Keep in mind that I don't consider myself better or more enlightened than any one else because of my Christianity. I didn't choose to be a Christian. God called and I had no option. I thank Him everyday for allowing me to feel His presence in my life. If I had done something worthy of deserving this perhaps I would brag about it but since it wasn't up to me, I just accept it and share what I've become with anyone interested in listening.



Perhaps its because I don't believe in a religion, so when I think of "having faith in something", to me it means "I hope, fear, or believe that I may be right about something that I can't prove." It is a hunch, a feeling. It may be based on experience, observation and interpretation, or merely an understanding of the way things tend to go, but it's not cold, hard, indisputable fact.

Faith, from a Christian point of view, means to accept the truth of something despite any lack of evidence. It does not mean believing or hoping something is true. It is accepting it to be true. Keep in mind that Christian faith does not come from something internal. To a Christian, faith is God given. Because of the fallen nature of man he is hostile to God (Calvin calls this total depravity) and only God can overcome this nature of disobedience to God's will by giving man the gift of grace. One of the benefits of grace is faith. From a Christian perspective a believer does not choose God, God chooses him.



When you talk about KNOWING that there is an undercurrent and the person will need a life preserver, that is, to me, faith bolstered by pride into a certainty when in fact it is a belief, an unprovable hunch or feeling. You don't know, for a fact, that there is an undertow there, you are taking it on faith. And when I speak of faith here, it's not limited to religion, secular people fall into the same trap... IMO, it is little different from anthropogenic global warming alarmists who believe with absolute certainty that they are right, and they have "evidence" to back them up. But IMO, their pride magnifies that belief, in their minds, into incontrovertible fact. If they had more humility, they'd realize that it is only a belief, not a proven fact, that they espouse.

From the perspective of faith I do know that there is an undertow. It has nothing to do with pride or anything of that nature. Because of my faith in the existence of the undertow and the character that God has created in me, I am obligated to at least warn you. After that the choice is yours. You can either jump in and possibly drown or you can accept my advice and take the proper precautions. From my perspective I have fulfilled my role by warning you. This example neither shows pride nor humility. It is simply the obligation a Christian has. I would be remiss if I didn't help you. This behavior doesn't just confine itself to spreading the Gospel. I should offer my assistance to anyone who needs help and I can provide that help. Before I came to believe I could not care less about helping anyone but part of the change God brought about in me was to be concerned about others and to help in whatever way I could. This is part of Christian humility, to put the needs of others ahead of your own.

From your earlier post concerning taking pride in your work and your family, you seem to have confused pride with satisfaction. If you do a good job at work and you know it and are recognized for the good job I belief that you have every right to be satisfied with your performance. If, however, you move from colleague to colleague pointing out what a good job you've done with the intention of bolstering you self-esteem then you are guilty of the sin of pride. You are putting yourself above another for the sake of ego enhancement. Humility, on the other hand, is accepting the recognition of you work and sincerely being content with doing good work for the benefit of those you work for. Likewise if you hold your family above others families and consider that you and yours are better than them then you are guilty of pride. If you are merely happy that you have a nice family and they make you feel good then you are being humble.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 04:57 PM
I was saying that it is the same as "secular" humility, just without reference to God.

But the original question wasn't about humility in general it was about the nature of Christian humility so I answered in context of that question. I honestly didn't mean to imply that humility is only related to God. If the question would have been "what is the nature of humility" my answer would have been different and less specific to faith.

Gingersnap
07-30-2008, 05:20 PM
I was saying that it is the same as "secular" humility, just without reference to God.

I would disagree that they are same thing. Secular humility is more a set of behaviors that can be positive or negative depending on the context. In Christianity, humility is always a positive virtue and by "positive" I mean that it is an active principle rather than a passive state.

Zeus
07-30-2008, 05:25 PM
Piety or the religious aspect of humility. You know some of the thought as silly and insignificant aspects of Christianity in practice. Stand up , sit down, cross your heart. fold your hands in prayer etc etc etc. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Though faith comes good works.

Things are complicated only because we mere mortals make them so in our word,thought & deed.

"There But for the Grace of God go I"

Goldwater
07-30-2008, 07:40 PM
I would disagree that they are same thing. Secular humility is more a set of behaviors that can be positive or negative depending on the context. In Christianity, humility is always a positive virtue and by "positive" I mean that it is an active principle rather than a passive state.

Why can't humility be a principle for someone without faith? Surely it can be a characteristic of a person, not a philosophy or path one chooses because they follow a religion.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 08:36 PM
Why can't humility be a principle for someone without faith? Surely it can be a characteristic of a person, not a philosophy or path one chooses because they follow a religion.

I think what Ginger is saying is that the reasons for secular humility are different than those for Christians. Both can be humble but humility is generally viewed as a negative in secular society but it is considered a virtue by believers. I would be willing to bet that when you and I picture a humble person in our minds we have two different images. This is one of the reasons that matters of faith are difficult to discuss. All sides don't agree on the definitions that are used to describe the concepts being discussed.

It is a characteristic of a person and you are correct in that the secular and the Christian can both be humble. Humility, however, is not a path or a philosophy that a Christian follows. It is not something to be worked for or obtained through work. To describe it as a path is more of a eastern philosophical idea practiced by Buddhists and Hindus. In the language of the Christian faith it is considered a 'fruit of the Spirit'. A regenerate person is at some point given a humble nature as a gift of God. Christ stated "by their fruits you shall know them" and humility was one of a collection of behaviors that identified someone as a believer.

Gingersnap
07-30-2008, 08:38 PM
Why can't humility be a principle for someone without faith? Surely it can be a characteristic of a person, not a philosophy or path one chooses because they follow a religion.

Of course it can but in this discussion we are talking about Christian humility. Christian humility is necessarily different from its secular counterpart. Many concepts, love, faith, hope, charity, sacrifice, anger, etc. have very specific definitions among various Christians that don't correspond to popular or secular notions.

All those terms mean something in a secular context but the meaning is not identical to the Christian definition or to a Buddhist or pagan definition.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 08:41 PM
Of course it can but in this discussion we are talking about Christian humility. Christian humility is necessarily different from its secular counterpart. Many concepts, love, faith, hope, charity, sacrifice, anger, etc. have very specific definitions among various Christians that don't correspond to popular or secular notions.

All those terms mean something in a secular context but the meaning is not identical to the Christian definition or to a Buddhist or pagan definition.

We really need to get out of each other's heads.:D

Gingersnap
07-30-2008, 08:43 PM
We really need to get out of each other's heads.:D

Maybe later. Right now, we're having too much wholesome fun.

Goldwater
07-30-2008, 08:44 PM
OK, sorry to hijack the thread, it's just when you see humility as a general term that transcends religion, it leaves you little wiggle room. :D

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 08:46 PM
Maybe later. Right now, we're having too much wholesome fun.

It amused me that we took two different routes to say pretty much the same thing.

FlaGator
07-30-2008, 08:47 PM
OK, sorry to hijack the thread, it's just when you see humility as a general term that transcends religion, it leaves you little wiggle room. :D

I don't think you hijacked it. I feel you enhanced it :)

Gingersnap
07-30-2008, 09:30 PM
Not a thread jack; an honest observation on the topic which is what it's all about.;)

Lanie
07-30-2008, 09:37 PM
Humility is a Christian virtue and one that has been examined and discussed for centuries. This thread is to discuss the nature of humility within the Christian framework.

How does Christian humility differ from the secular idea of humility? Are humble people constrained from opinion? Is it "humble" to be a doormat? How does the idea of humble behavior differ from secular ideas about low self-esteem and other-directed behavior? Is humility a source of pride for some? Or is humble behavior itself a source of unrest for others when they witness it? Can humility inspire envy? Is it even a virtue worth having in this day and age?

Discuss. Nicely. :)

That's a lot of questions. :)

The main difference between secular humility and religious is that one of them is consciously inspired by God. The religious one lets God do his work. Personally, I think God will work through people, even if it means working through non-Christian beliefs and lack of beliefs.

It's okay for humble people to have opinions. When that opinion is based on arrogant ideas, that particular opinion is not humble. The person as a whole may still be humble though depending on how many arrogant opinions they have.

It is humble to be a doormat. There are some people who are humble enough and still not be a doormat. It's a matter of finding the right mixture. "Humility" may be a source of pride for some, but those people are in danger of losing their humility. Humility can be a source of unrest for others if they see it as getting in the way of something they want. That can inspire envy. Yes, it is a virtue worth having.

on edit: Just read through some of the other answers and thought they were really great. :)

Gingersnap
07-30-2008, 09:43 PM
Glad to see you weigh in, darling! :D

megimoo
07-30-2008, 09:51 PM
Glad to see you weigh in, darling! :DYou are definitely destined for great things !