Why aren't we humble?

In his explication of John 3:25-36 in yesterday's Illuminate study, Phil Smith reminds us that "humility does not consist in thinking badly about oneself or putting oneself down." Phil points to John the Baptist: "Rather than envy or jealousy" in the face of Jesus's growing reputation, John "feels joy." And this reaction is an example for Christians who "have not always shared John's humility." When we see the success that other Christian groups are experiencing in their work, for instance, instead of joy, "we feel threatened."

This is not the way of Jesus.

In her Friendly Perspective at the end of the Illuminate study, Aj Schwanz points to a key moment in John's exchange with his disciples, a moment that illustrates how Christian humility should work. John said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease," and Aj elaborates that this reality - "having to decrease in my own life" - can feel threatening, like loss. "But it's actually the opposite," Aj writes. "As I am decreasing, the road to recovery and healing and life and truth may continue to grow, and I may continue to be a part of it."

Why, then, aren't we humble? Phil writes that the problem might be "an interior world of shame . . . a lie in the heart: 'I am a worthless nobody unless I am better than others.'" Jesus offers us freedom from that lie, for "'whoever believes in the Son has eternal life'–not just when resurrection day comes, but now."

Eric Muhr