I do not accept glory from humans (John 5:41, NIV)
..a themia ki nu ketshe pfii nyiiya mo
As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else (1 Thess. 2:6, NLT)
Hie themia kinu ketshe pfiimo, nie kinu rei morei kekreimia kinu shieri
How hard are these words to say! Ours is a time when we have to assert and promote ourselves lest we are trampled upon by people. There seems to be no place for the meek and the humble. They are walked over. So, these words of Jesus and Paul come as a stark contrast to the prevalent view of our time.
We come across people going on an ego trip. If you have been observing, there has been a change in the trend which is quite recent. Not long ago, to lavish praise on one’s own achievements was seen as negative trait, something to be laughed at, of course, in the absence of the one who does so. But time and time again, I have been coming across people who go on and on about their own accomplishments. They speak as if the universe would disintegrate without their help. It seems as though we don’t see that as a negative trait anymore. In this competitive world, to heap praise on oneself, I suspect, might be seen as an essential thing to do to survive or keep up with the world. Self-advertisement becomes necessary in a culture where to be noticed and celebrated is the ultimate desirable end. Not to be noticed is to cease to exist. To meet that end without caring for the means is the mark of the day. You need to advertise yourself in order to sell your brand to the world, and it takes you to places and gets things done. Cost-effectiveness is valued over character.
Forget about the teaching of Jesus when he says ‘when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ (Matt. 6: 3). When we do something good, we want to shout it from rooftops; we want it captured on camera, have it published in the newspapers, get the receipt laminated and photo-framed, or have it updated in our facebook status.
What does the Scripture verses mean then? Are they of any good for our times? Isn’t it good to be recognized? Isn’t it more productive and effective if you let people know your worth? Won’t that open up doors to do greater good? What is so bad then about self-promotion and advertising one’s own capabilities and achievements?
It is pride (I’m not talking about the type of Pride as in a father being proud of his son’s exam results). It is taking pride in one’s own self. It is all about I, me and myself. It has no room for God or other people. It is to be self-deceived to think that one can be so good because of one’s own self. The Bible equates pride with foolishness; the proud is someone who lacks understanding (2 Cor. 10: 12). It is opposite of love (1 Cor. 13:4). It is the precursor to a sure downfall (Prov. 29:23, 16:18). It is a hindrance to seeking God and receiving his grace (James 4:6). The proud seeks his/her own glory over God’s.
To be humble is not to be weak but to be reliant on a greater power: the power of God which gives strength for us to do all things (Phil. 4: 13). To be humble is to seek for God’s wisdom and understanding. To be humble is to give back the glory and honour to God. There is a false humility. It is what we may call ‘pride in humility’, or ‘proud of being humble’. In a so-called Christianized society like ours, people can take pride in being so humble; the ‘I am-not-like-them’ mentality. Even kind deeds can be shrouded in pride. A charity work can be done with much pride in the heart. A writing such as this on Pride and Humility can also be done with the motive of getting glory from people.
In a time when people do bizarre things just to be noticed, or advertise their way up the public ratings charts and it seems as though you are left behind; hear these words, ‘Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves’ (Phil. 2: 3). This advice flies in the face of the thinking of our times. But it is the way to receive God’s grace and wisdom, a sure foundation for a secure and fulfilling life.