This Letter is about Christian virtue, specifically, the virtue of humility. It seems the patient, the young man in the story, is in a dance with humility as he continues to get his spiritual legs under him.
There are a bunch of moving parts in this Letter. Let's see if we can pull it all together.
For the Christian to have a humble heart is pretty standard, Christianity 101 stuff. The Bible talks about our being humble a whole lot, so it must be a pretty big deal to God.
"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven". Matthew 18:4 (HCSB)
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted". Matthew 23:12 (HCSB)
Arguably, I think most of us get that we're to be humble. Truly humble - honorable, compassionate, respectful, temperate, gracious. Nothin' wrong with any of that, right?
But, Screwtape is suggesting here that humility gets to be a problem (in a good way, for the demons) when we become proud of it. "Proud of our humility". Wait a minute. What?
Pride. It's clear from the scriptures that pride - self pride - is not Godly. It's destructive. It causes us to fall. It's a disgrace.
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall". Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom". Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)
So, how could it happen? How could good humility go bad? Well, according to Screwtape, humility becomes pride when.....
Our focus leans inward and away from God
We become impressed with our ability to be humble
Let that sink in a minute.
Now, Part 2:
I'll kick it off with a question:
Since we're supposed to be humble and pride-less, then that means we are to think very little of ourselves, right?
Answer: Not exactly.
First of all, to think too little of ourselves would be an opinion. And frankly, we are not entitled to an opinion on our worth. Only God is qualified for that.
Secondly, a low self-worth can morph into self-contempt and, as Screwtape says, "self-contempt can be made the starting-point for contempt of other selves". Who knew that hating yourself hurts other people?
Bottom line: Because God loves us so incredibly, unbelievably much - even Screwtape acknowledges this - we are Significant. Prized. A hot property, A big deal. We should think highly of ourselves, because we are cherished by the Most High.
I'm not a bigger deal than you. You're not a bigger deal than me. Our MSRP's are exactly the same.
Pretty much everybody is familiar with the scripture:
“....Love your neighbor as yourself.[a] There is no other command greater than these.” Mark 12:31 (HCSB)
Absolutely. And, thanks to this new insight from Screwtape, I would also suggest we love ourselves (the same) as our neighbor.
I love music. All kinds of music. Country, rock, R & B, classical... if it's good, I like it.
But, here's the deal. I think we all need to spend some of our listening time - when the world is screaming at us from all directions - listening to Christian (gospel, contemporary Christian, hymns, praise & worship, whatever you want to call it) music. For Believers, a Christian song can affirm our faith, lift us up, bring peace to our heart, hammer home a scripture, reveal a truth - pretty much whatever we need in that moment. Look, I love me some Eric Church, but not as much as Jesus does. And Bon Jovi may be livin' on a prayer, but that doesn't cover me, you know what I’m sayin’? I NEED to take in some Christian music every single day.
That’s not to mention, it's just plain fun to get my personal worship jam on in the car, in the shower, on the exercise bike. Major stress reliever. (True story: Good thing I was on a stationary bike this morning, instead of a real one, when I closed my eyes and threw up my hands listening to Casting Crowns' "Voice of Truth", or there could've been a serious accident.)
So, OK. This post is an encouragement to you to work some Christian music into your daily routine, if you’re not doing that already. It can rock your world, I’m tellin’ ya.
I also wanted to share with you my current Spotify playlist of Christian songs. Some are old, some are new. These are some of my favorites – some because I just like the song, and others I have found the message incredibly powerful during certain times in life. Maybe one of them will really resonate with you, too.
And, if you would, feel free to share (Reply) here – with me and other Faith by Dummy Blog readers, some of your personal, go-to Christian songs. I’m always looking to add more to my playlist.
Link to my Spotify “Christian” Playlist:
Oh, and one more thing…… While you’re in Spotify, I would love it if you would check out my Faith by Dummy Podcast. Let me know what you think! Thanks!?