I’ve come to realize that modesty is wrong.
Modesty, as I’ve seen it used, is down-playing one’s own worth in front of others for the sake of not appearing big-headed. People are modest when they know they are awesome, and they know that everyone else knows they are awesome, and they are afraid of people disliking them because of their pride. So they down-play their worth in order to eliminate any reason for someone disliking them.
Modesty is also a sign that someone still views themselves as their own creation. If everyone is a creation of God then down-playing the worth of anyone, including yourself, is wrong. God wants your awesomeness to shine because you reflect the awesomeness of your Creator.
The ideal solution is to accept your awesomeness, not pretend it isn’t there, and at the same time acknowledge the awesomeness of others. Instead of down-playing yourself and saying, “No, I’m really just as crappy as you are,” recognize the giftedness that both of you have and say, “We’re both awesome! How awesome is the God who made us!”
Humility, on the other hand, is good.
Humility, though not arrogant, has nothing to do with down-playing one’s self worth. You don’t have to view yourself as crappy to be humble. Humility is simply having an accurate perception of one’s self in relation to an Almighty God. In humilty you can still recognize your awesomeness for what it is, you are simply aware that it is infinitescimal next to that of God’s. Humility in social interactions is being respectful of others and their awesomeness, because we are all made in God’s image. But it doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you, because you bear God’s image as well.
Humility is carrying out one of Jesus’s commands to us, which is to treat everyone as we would treat Him.
I don’t write this to put anyone down. Modesty is something we as Canadians have been trained to do – and at first glance it sounds perfectly fine. Many times in my life I fear I’ve been more modest and less humble (because I still viewed myself as my own creation and not God’s creation – one of many causes of my perfectionism), and this is something I want to reverse in my life. This is me analyzing the reasons behind what we do, and looking for a better solution.
P.S.: Does “The Humble and the Modest” sound to you like the title of a weird action movie?
Soap opera is what comes to mind, not action movie. Lol.
Great post Ben, very thought provoking and you also made me smile.
Well put. And as Christians, we often overplay the humble thing. One of the things my husband (and greatest fan) is always trying to beat into me, not literally of course, lol, is to graciously accept compliments. I’m working on it and hopefully getting better at it. When people appreciate who we are or what we do, we can always refer to God as the giver of giftedness without totally deflecting the praise given.
You brought up a good point Kim – Compliments.
As someone who battles with Perfectionism, my natural tendency is to both grasp for and deflect compliments.
One time when I was on a youth retreat we did this group thing where we all took turns having people say what they liked about us, and the only thing we were allowed to say in response was “Thank-you.” We weren’t allowed to deflect.
That stuck with me – and I’ve been trying lately to hold onto that philosophy.
Thanks guys. 🙂
Very well said. Modesty is the antithesis of humility, and should be avoided.
that’s what I’ve been trying to say: I can be humble and awesome at the SAME TIME 😛
Seriously though, I’m glad you blogged about this. Brings back the many conversations we’ve had on it, and it was good timing too. Lately I have noticed (perhaps I subconsciously picked it up) that I have actually been acting modest…. Thanks for reminding me not to be.
You’re going to make me regret this, aren’t you?…
Thanks for the blog on modesty. I love your insights! Another aspect of modesty I’ve given some thought to are motivations I might have when sharing about personal struggles. If I’m honest, some of these struggles are presented with false humility in hopes that I will be liked. False humility is an ugly side of pride brother! And I share it with you now, not because I want you to like me 🙂
Lol. I still like you 🙂
Thank you for sharing.
So you do not believe that you have had a hand, whatsoever, in the making of yourself? That opinion seems a tad bit unreasonable, if one is a follower other christian thoughts aswell. I mean, if god created not only you, but also all your bad habits and sinful interests (such as murdering, stealing, being a follower of another belief and all that shizzness), what is the point in punishing you after you die? It seems kinda malicious to me. Furthermore it means that one can defend every morally contemptuos act with the phrase “Well, he made me do it”.
Oh, and regarding humility and modesty. I agree, down-playing yourself is bad. But I do not believe that simply being a human warrants awesomeness.
Please excuse my english, if you find it unclear, or annoying. I ain’t from an english speaking country.
Thank you Rasputin,
Your words touch on the issue of human free will vs. God’s sovereignty, which I know is big debate for some.
Without getting over-detailed with my own opinions on the subject, I’ll just say here that: I believe what God created in the beginning was glorious, but as sin entered the world all of creation entered a fallen state. No, I don’t think God is responsible for sin, nor do I think sinful thoughts or habits were something he put into us when he made us. Everything I see is not as glorious as it once was, but much of its former glory is still evident even now. And with the promise of resurrection I see God’s creations being restored to their former, sinless, unfallen state someday.
In the mean time, I’m still a struggling Christian doing what I can to make it through a fallen world, but I have Christ in me, and the Spirit that raised him from the dead. That’s something to brag about!
Thank you for your thoughts Rasputin. And don’t worry, your English is quite good. 🙂
Ah, thank you for the compliment. Although I’m quite condfident in my english writing skills, one never knows with you fulltime english men. To the subject at hand. As God is omnipotent, he no doubt foresaw this, falling of the world and the birth of sin. Would it not then be more reasonable to assume that he in order to let us grow as beings gave us free will and let it happen? Let us choose our damnation? Instead of just randomly letting us suffer for millenia.
What I’m trying to say is, wouldn’t it on the whole make more sense if he left a blank in our souls (or something) to fill in ourselves? If so, that would mean that we are not completely of gods making, but also of our own. I’m sorry if that thought appears sacriligeous, but aslong as one distances oneself from vanity and megalomania among other things, I see nothing wrong in solely taking pride in ones own abilities.
Ah, thank you for replying by the way, to a off-topic comment made by a stranger . I just randomly came across your website while googling some stuff, read some your posts, felt curious about your view on christianity and posted a comment =)
No problem. Random strangers are fun. : )
I recently came across this quote from Nelson Mandela that seems very fitting for this discussion. He essentially summarizes a big chunk of what I hope to communicate with this post, only in a way that comes across as more encouraging and less jack-assy.
“Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate. Our worst fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves the question, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in us, it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Nelson Mandela
(I just hope Shanks doesn’t make me regret this again.)