“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” I can’t remember where that quote came from, but I like it. It dovetails nicely with “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment, he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
There is a kind of “worm theology” that emphasizes human depravity to the extreme. Such theology paints an image of humanity being no better than worms in God’s eyes until we are saved by Christ. Once saved, we become “covered” in the righteousness of Jesus, and God then sees Jesus when he looks at us instead of seeing lowly worms.
Society and the media pressure us with “you’re-not-good-enough” messages. Or, the message is, “You have to be better than others, so look out for number one.” Arrogance and self-abasement seem to be popular choices.
Since we are sinful creatures, God certainly does not like to look upon our fallen natures. However, with grace being greater than all our sin, I’m inclined to believe that God views us as creatures worth redeeming. His desire is to actually make us clean, not just cover up the muck. I don’t think he sees worms. I think he sees his beloved, wounded creatures in need of healing. Evil has done a number on us, because we allowed it to.
If we are honest, we will see flaws when we look in the mirror. We will see our sins and our wounds. We also need to see people worth redeeming when we look in the mirror. When we shed the self-centered “chains” of being a “complete worm” we are able to focus our attention away from self and onto others. Then, we see our neighbors and ourselves the way God sees us. Then we can love our neighbors as ourselves, the way God does. We are all wounded. We all need healing. We can’t save ourselves. We can, however, point each other to the Great Physician who loves us and wants to heal us. His grace and love can flow through us, but the “on switch” is our own humility.
No one gets to Heaven by earning it. We can’t earn it. But we are supposed to be there. God wants us there with him. That’s why we were created. Realizing and accepting that fact is a humbling experience. We are not worthy of being there, but we are worth being there. God wants to remove the muck so we can enter the purity of Heaven, but he won’t force cleanliness upon us and violate our free will. We tend to prefer playing in the muck, even though it doesn’t provide us with the real satisfaction we yearn for. So we are offered chance upon chance to respond to God’s grace.
Self-centeredness can work in different ways. Arrogance is placing self above others. Abasement or degradation makes everyone else more valuable than self. Either way, time is spent primarily thinking of self. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a balance that gives everyone “God-esteem.” If you don’t love yourself the way God does, you’ll be hard-pressed to love others the way God does (especially your enemies). Humility is the way in and the way out of your true self. Humility is the first step towards God and true contentment.