Friday, September 07, 2007

Whose Estimation Counts?

In the article in the Christian Century I referred to in the last post, Samuel Wells has a nice turn of phrase in his review of N.T. Wright's Evil and the Justice of God. There is a sentence in the intro paragraph that speaks volumes about our consuming passion with ourselves: "The philosophical tendency for at least the past three centuries has been to assume that the human estimation of God is more significant than the divine estimation of humanity."

The Bono version of this line is: "I love it when people on bar stools rub their chins and say 'do you believe in God?' That’s so presumptuous. A much more important question is 'does God believe in us?'" (I found this over on “Beth’s” blog (she doesn’t give her last name) Until Translucent.

It really does show the anthropomorphism [the human self-centeredness] of all our questions about God. As if our questioning the existence of God actually determines anything in the heavenlies. When we begin focusing on ourselves in introspection and self-analysis it can become pride and pride comes before a fall.

Brennan Manning says it this way:
“The humble heart wastes little time in introspection, navel gazing, looking in the mirror and being anxious about their spiritual growth. Their self-acceptance without self-concern is anchored in the acceptance of Jesus in their struggle to be faithful. They fasten their attention on God.” Ruthless Trust, pp125-6

I actually did a little chart on humility versus pride that I used in a sermon in August. [The numbers line up with each other as point and counterpoint.]

Signs of pride
1. thinking about self – focused on self – introspection, being anxious
2. selfishness
3. comparing yourself to others
4. self abasement (trying to get low, feel bad about self)
5. fear – what if I don’t measure up, not good enough – resulting in inaction, paralyzed by fear or fear of failure
6. unforgiveness/bitterness – not being able to let it go
7. legalism, moralism, ethics
8. man-pleaser – trying to find your identity in what others think of you – you wear a mask hiding behind your false self

Signs of humility
1. thinking about God – focused on God – accepted by God and anxious for nothing
2. crucified self – it’s no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me
3. serving others
4. courage/abandoned to do God’s will
5. obedience – actively living out what God has given you to do knowing that He has already paid for your failure
6. forgiveness – release it into the hands of God
7. listening to God
8. pleasing God – finding your identity in Him free to be who He made you to be

Neil Anderson's definition of pride is "confidence rightly placed." The goal of humility is not to feel bad about yourself – that is merely another indicator of pride. But we need to see ourselves with the eyes of God. Our identity is in Him. My identity is imputed to me by God and God alone. So He sees me as His child, in relationship with Him.

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