Thinking Out Loud

July 6, 2019

A Humble Self-Opinion

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:26 am

A few days ago someone asked online if it was appropriate to ‘like’ their own social media posts. I suggested that it seemed a bit narcissistic. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines narcissism as, “extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance : marked by or characteristic of excessive admiration of or infatuation with oneself.”

In contrast, Paul reminds us in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” NIV.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is quoted in Matthew 6:2, “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” NLT

Back in March I introduced Christianity 201 readers to a reading drawn from a posting of seven chapters of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, posted by Random House at the link in the title below, where you can read all 7 chapters. This book is an all-time Christian classic if you haven’t read it. Furthermore, it can be read very, very quickly.I have made only one editing change, taking out the use of numbered paragraphs (which I believe cause readers to rush through the material) and substituting each new section with the first sentence in bold type.

Having a Humble Opinion of One’s Self

Thomas à Kempis; 1380 – 1471; Wikipedia photo

Everyone has a natural desire for knowledge but what good is knowledge without the fear of God? Surely a humble peasant who serves God is better than the proud astronomer who knows how to chart the heavens’ stars but lacks all knowledge of himself.

If I truly knew myself I would look upon myself as insignificant and would not find joy in hearing others praise me. If I knew everything in the world and were still without charity, what advantage would I have in the eyes of God who is to judge me according to my deeds?

Curb all undue desire for knowledge, for in it you will find many distractions and much delusion. Those who are learned strive to give the appearance of being wise and desire to be recognized as such; but there is much knowledge that is of little or no benefit to the soul.

Whoever sets his mind on anything other than what serves his salvation is a senseless fool. A barrage of words does not make the soul happy, but a good life gladdens the mind and a pure conscience generates a bountiful confidence in God.

The more things you know and the better you know them, the more severe will your judgment be, unless you have also lived a holier life. Do not boast about the learning and skills that are yours; rather, be cautious since you do possess such knowledge.

If it seems to you that you know many things and thoroughly understand them all, realize that there are countless other things of which you are ignorant. Be not haughty, but admit your ignorance. Why should you prefer yourself to another, when there are many who are more learned and better trained in God’s law than you are? If you are looking for knowledge and a learning that is useful to you, then love to be unknown and be esteemed as nothing.

This is the most important and most salutary lesson: to know and to despise ourselves. It is great wisdom and perfection to consider ourselves as nothing and always to judge well and highly of others. If you should see someone commit a sin or some grievous wrong, do not think of yourself as someone better, for you know not how long you will remain in your good state.

We are all frail; but think of yourself as one who is more frail than others.

 

 

6 Comments

  1. To draw such negative and condemning comments from a “liking” of your own comments seems a bit judgmental. I agree with the many calls in scripture for humility and a “right view of self”, but I am also very aware of shaming that does nothing to encourage a right view. We are encouraged to dig deep and have a right assessment driven from time with God, scripture reading and the community of saints. But I do believe in our desire to live in a holy manner we are quick to deny the work we have created and believe that it can be good. Not unlike our Creator in the garden. As children who have been created in the image of our God, the ability to proclaim something good does not necessarily mean there is narcissism. The fact the question has been asked is someone who is working on mindfulness and checking their heart.

    Comment by LORI M LAMBELET — July 6, 2019 @ 10:07 am

    • It was simply being used as a springboard for the book excerpt which followed.

      Interestingly enough, the person who posted the FB comment was asking why FB even makes it possible to do that. He thought it was odd.

      My response in full:

      Narcissism. [“extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance: marked by or characteristic of excessive admiration of or infatuation with oneself.’] Okay, maybe that answer is a bit over-the-top. (Apologies!) I avoid the self-liking thing, personally. My love language is humility.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 6, 2019 @ 10:23 am

      • You might want to ponder your last sentence.

        Comment by LORI M LAMBELET — July 6, 2019 @ 10:36 am

      • Not sure what you mean. Humility is a value which especially resonates with me when I see it in others. It’s a theme that runs all through my writing.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 6, 2019 @ 3:09 pm

      • Oh Paul! The fact that you identify all your writings as humble and your love language is humility, is in fact doing the very thing you were condemning. Is it up to you to access your writings as humble? Is it up to you to describe yourself possessing humility? That in itself is a claim that you have qualities of pride! You are putting thumbs up all over this in declaring yourself to be something that if truly humble you would not declare.

        Comment by LORI M LAMBELET — July 6, 2019 @ 3:14 pm

      • …And, we’re done! Time to troll another blog, Lori All-Caps.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 6, 2019 @ 5:20 pm


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