Humility vs. Hubris

Great! Just when I thought maybe I might be gaining ground in getting along with others, I’ve found a new pet peeve. I say “new” only because the level of annoyance I feel seems to have gone up considerably as social media has become more prominent in my work and daily grind; the propensity of the human race to foolishly rush into judgment is, of course, not at all new (Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:12-13; 1 Corinthians 4:5; James 2:13).

While acknowledging first my own culpability, what has me so irritated is what I perceive to be an increasing heartlessness and hypocrisy associated with online “Monday Morning Quarterbacking.” Nowadays, it seems as though the ease with which anyone with any level of knowledge can communicate any opinion they wish on any topic to innumerable others via the Internet has (unwisely) loosened all our lips. Everyone has an opinion about what’s going on around us, based on facts or (more often) not, and the entirety of the wired world can now “enjoy” an endless parade of folks who confidently believe that they could have handled such-and-such situation far better than the ones who actually lived through it.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)Recent headlines have been terrifying to those of us who love and care for small children. It’s every loving parent’s worst nightmare to have harm come to your small child while under your care, so imagine the pain and guilt that would come from seeing your child face to face with a gorilla, or an alligator. That experience has to be a life-altering one, no matter the outcome. But now, on top of the trauma of living through the terror of watching a little one face imminent danger (or worse, perish), grieving parents can count on numerous strangers to go online and castigate them for their inattentiveness. The level of cruelty displayed is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Perhaps this isn’t true for everyone, but I for one am thankful no one walked around videotaping me over the years as I’ve parented my four children. While I feel pretty sure you’d have caught some real parenting wins, those wins doubtless would be overshadowed by my failures.

There was a time, for example, when I actually lost my oldest child for a few minutes in a store when he was about two-and-a-half years old. Annoyingly, this kid had a real love for hiding in the hanging clothes and peeking out at me as I was shopping; during one such game of peek-a-boo, I was more focused on what I was looking for than on my kiddo, just long enough that he slipped out of one rack of clothing and into another without my seeing him. (Of course, for those of you who know Nate, now in his 20’s and married, you know the outcome was uneventful, and I found him grinning in a nearby rack of shirts.)

Because I too have failed at times to be 100% attentive, it really upsets me when others rush into a traumatic situation and begin making outrageous declarations of how they would have handled a situation differently. And yet, it occurs to me that my heart toward these irritating online combatants is no different than theirs. I sit in judgment of them as they sit in judgment of others, and I become just like them. Why do we relentlessly point the finger at others?

There’s a great Old Testament verse I’ve been meditating on this week that I think points us toward wisdom and (not incidentally) compassion. This verse concisely shows us that we, as Christian believers, are called to a life that is in direct opposition to our natural tendency to judge.

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

  • Christians are called first to humble ourselves. To judge one another requires a foundation of pride. When we suggest that someone got it wrong, the insinuation is that we’ve got it right. That’s arrogant, prideful thinking, devoid of kindness or any acknowledgement of our own shortcomings. Pride will always seek to keep our eyes off of ourselves and our own failings and looking outward for others to blame.
  • Christians are called to pray and seek God. God’s Word tells us that He is the only good judge, and that we are not to judge but to trust Him in all situations. The greatest way I can think of to trust God with a situation where we are tempted to judge is to cry out to Him and to ask Him to purify our hearts of the pride and all other sin He finds there.
  • Christians are called to repent of our own sins. We are all good at identifying the sin and failures of others, but God calls us to identify and repent of the sin we find within. When you find yourself pointing your finger at someone else’s outrageous behavior, you are responding in that moment in a manner that is laden with sinful pride and rebellion. You’ve immediately taken the role that God says He alone fills.

What happens when we humbly turn to God, pray and seek His face, and confess our own failures…instead of looking outward and all that’s wrong in our neighborhood, city, country? You may think that humble prayer and confession works only in your own life to sanctify your soul, and while it does that, it does far more. This verse also tells us that God, when we repent of our own wickedness, forgives our sins and heals our land.

I can think of no time in American history when our land so desperately needed healing. God’s call to those who claim to love Jesus is a personal call to humility and trust, yes, but it’s also a corporate call. God’s work in our lives, as the body of Christ, spreads out to the community in which we live. Our own holiness, if you will, benefits the land in which we live.

Psalm 98:8-9 (ESV)
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Luke 6:37
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

John 12:48
The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

One Comment

  1. Mona Pargee said:

    Thank you Michele for sharing wise, compassionate and insightful thoughts.

Leave a Reply