Humility – Judging Ourselves by the Right Standard
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:33
Comparison is a vicious trap, and moms are especially vulnerable to it. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others and respond with either pride (I’m better than she is!) or false humility (I’m worse than she is!).
Pride is comparing ourselves to others and having an excessively high view of ourselves—an arrogant sense of superiority. It can involve boasting about ourselves or judging others, and both are wrong. Boasting is saying, “Look what I did! I’m better than you!” Judging is saying, “I can’t believe what you did! I would never do that. You’re worse than I am!” They’re two sides of the same coin.
Having a double standard is often a source of pride. We judge ourselves by a low standard, giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt when we fail. Yet we judge others by a high standard, assuming they have bad motives and no legitimate excuses. For example, if we are speeding, we justify it by saying that we’re running late through no fault of our own, but if we see others speeding, we judge them for breaking the law. I was really convicted of this double standard recently when I justified missing a deadline because of circumstances beyond my control, but I was offended by another team member missing a related deadline and jumped to the conclusion that she just didn’t care or work hard enough.
Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we hold ourselves to a rigorous standard and give others the benefit of the doubt? We can’t know or judge other people’s motives, but we must judge our own motives and actions with clarity and honesty. Romans 12:3 tells us, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
False humility is actually another form of pride. It’s comparing ourselves to others and having an excessively low view of ourselves—a self-deprecating sense of inferiority. A classic example is Uriah Heep in David Copperfield, who was proud of being so “umble.” False humility is looking at others and saying, “I’m worse than you are!” It’s often a backhanded way to invite others to build us up and tell us how great we actually are.
So what is genuine humility? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “freedom from pride or arrogance.” Both pride and humility are rooted in comparison and judgment; the difference is the standard by which we judge ourselves and others.
Pride and false humility are based on comparing ourselves to other people and judging by that false standard. True humility, however, is based on comparing ourselves to God’s Word and judging by that standard. While pride is an inappropriately high view of ourselves and false humility is an inappropriately low view of ourselves, true humility is an accurate view of ourselves according to Scripture.
Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
“The fear of the Lord” is having a reverential awe of God. We must know who God is to know who we are. Part of pride is caring too much about what others think of us instead of what God thinks of us. Humility requires that we don’t compare ourselves to other people but to God’s Word. Only then will we judge ourselves accurately.
Don’t measure yourself by Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook. Instead, measure yourself by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17), the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1–12), and the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Judging ourselves by God’s Word creates true humility and reminds us of our utter dependence on Him.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3