Sunday, December 28, 2008

Humility

Christianity Today gives us another very good article by Tim Keller. This one is about the central importance of the virtue of humility - a virtue which, as soon as you think you have it, you probably don't. The full article is here. Two excerpts:
Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less, as C. S. Lewis so memorably said. It is to be no longer always noticing yourself and how you are doing and how you are being treated. It is "blessed self-forgetfulness."

Humility is a byproduct of belief in the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we have a confidence not based in our performance but in the love of God in Christ (Rom. 3:22-24). This frees us from having to always be looking at ourselves. Our sin was so great, nothing less than the death of Jesus could save us. He had to die for us. But his love for us was so great, Jesus was glad to die for us. ....

There are two basic narrative identities at work among professing Christians. The first is what I will call the moral-performance narrative identity. These are people who in their heart of hearts say, I obey; therefore I am accepted by God. The second is what I will call the grace narrative identity. This basic operating principle is, I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore I obey.

People living their lives on the basis of these two different principles may superficially look alike. They may sit right beside one another in the church pew, both striving to obey the law of God, to pray, to give money generously, to be good family members. But they are doing so out of radically different motives, in radically different spirits, resulting in radically different personal characters.

When persons living in the moral-performance narrative are criticized, they are furious or devastated because they cannot tolerate threats to their self-image of being a "good person." ....

But those who understand the gospel cannot possibly look down on anyone, since they were saved by sheer grace, not by their perfect doctrine or strong moral character..... [more]

We are saved by grace. Obedience earns nothing. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Jn 14:15, ESV).

The Advent of Humility | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

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