Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thoughts on Humility (drawn from Thomas Watson)-Part I

I am prideful. I hate it. I recognize how it is soaked in me to the very depth of my being. Trying to uproot pride is really difficult too.

Enter Thomas Watson, a Puritan. He is currently one of my best friends (though he has been dead a while) and I have found his works to be of tremendous comfort. He wrote a book called The Godly Man's Picture where he unpacks some attributes of someone who is truly Godly. The eleventh attribute he describes is humility.

First, Watson describes three things he does and does not mean when he talks about humility. He says that there is a difference between being humbled and being humble. There is also a difference between someone who acts humble outwardly and someone who is humble inwardly. Finally, there are people who are only humble to achieve their own ends.

But wait! How can I know if I am humble and consequently godly? As soon as I see I am humble, doesn't that mean I am not humble? Not necessarily according to Watson. A Christian can inspect his or her life and see if they exhibit fruits of godliness.

  • One of these signs is that a Christian is emptied of all swelling thoughts of himself. 
  • A second sign is that he thinks of others as greater than himself. 
  • Third, a humble person sees the sin in his good deeds.
  • Fourth, a humble person embraces any indictments against himself, recognizing that he truly is evil in his heart.
  • Fifth, someone who is humble will seek to show why God is absolutely just in allowing him to go through tough times.
  • Sixth, humility shows itself to be a Christ-magnifier.
  • Seventh, a humble individual is willing to be reproofed for their sin.
  • Eighth, if a man's gifts and talents are downplayed and God's glory is magnified and he is perfectly fine with that, that shows a spirit of humility.
  • Ninth, a humble man likes whatever condition God has put him in in life.
  • Tenth, a humble Christian will reach out to the lowest, poorest, most hurting Christians.
So how can we use this?  Watson suggests asking ourselves six important questions:

1) Am I boastful? Are you boasting about your wealth, apparel, beauty, or gifts?

2) Do I have a high opinion of my best qualities?

3) Are there other people you despise?

4) Do you try to trumpet how awesome you are?

5) Are you stealing the glory of God to make yourself look better?

6) Are you constantly obsessed with improving your condition, never being satisfied?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Watson would say you are not displaying humility.

Tomorrow, I'll post on Watson's solution on dealing with pride itself. 

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