Lewis had a lot to say about the virtues, because he believed he was not a virtuous man. So, when he preached “Virtue,” he preached more to himself than to his audience. That, friend, is a sign of a humble man—or woman.
Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
The best Bible passage I can think of that defines “humility,” doesn’t even mention the word. Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome may well have been written to the church in North America, as we are so full of ourselves that we think we occupy the high-ground in every category.
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. (Romans 12:3)
The opposite end of the self-image continuum from humility is pride, or at the extreme end, arrogance. Of course, few who occupy that rarefied stratum would admit to themselves that it is a problem. If anything, we’re proud of our pride.
King Solomon knew wherewith he spoke:
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
The wise king referred to vain pride, which is pride in self. “What else would you have pride in?” some would ask. And some would answer, “Jesus, the eternal Word of God, the Creator of the universe, God’s only Son after his own kind … duh!” And if you accept that God created you, how can you be proud of what and who you are? That’s like receiving a shiny new bicycle for Christmas, then bragging to all your little friends how you acquired it through your own efforts. That, friend, is the sin of presumption.
Dear Self-Made Man or Woman,
Congratulations on being your own Creator. You surely outdid me.