BBC radio presenter Andrew Martin has been preparing a series of essays for Radio 3. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph he describes the series as being, “about national characteristics that have, for better or worse (usually worse), been dispensed with in the past 30 years.”
In his article entitled, ‘The death of humility is nothing to boast about’, Martin bemoans the demise of the human characteristic and value of humility in 21st century narcissistic culture.
Sadly the age of Facebook and Twitter has seen the rise of contemporary role models such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Simon Cowell who promote arrogance as an acceptable lifestyle choice. This is the age of the ‘selfie’ the practice of taking a self portrait which is then posted on social media as a form of self- promotion. Plumbing the depths of bad taste, the selfie taken by the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of herself, David Cameron and Barack Obama during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesberg brought new levels of conceit, arrogance and dishonour to an event intended to honour the passing of a humble man.
Speaking of his own past, Martin acknowledges the role played by the Bible in his own family as the source of its frequent injunctions to espouse the value of humility. Comparing his own lost youth with the values of contemporary life, Martin can only look back with nostalgia to a bygone, gentler, and more civilised era: “The bighead is now the norm, whereas in the books of my youth, the boastful character was a freak, who pointed up the virtues of the hero.”
The church has been negatively impacted by the changing moral landscape according to Bible teacher, John MacArthur : “Perhaps the fastest growing phenomenon in modern Christianity is the emphasis on pride, self-esteem, self-image, self-fulfillment, and other manifestations of selfism. Out of it is emerging a new religion of self-centeredness, pride…….even arrogance. Voices from every part of the theological spectrum call us to join the self-esteem cult.”
While there is clear evidence of a growing and unhealthy obsession with elitism and self promotion in some Christian circles, the Bible is very clear as to what is expected from the genuine true believer.
Writing to the Christians in the city of Philippi, the Apostle Paul explains clearly how the true believer ought to behave: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
The death of humility is nothing to boast about, but may be premature. When a person becomes a follower of Jesus, and genuinely ‘walks the talk’, true humility is always evident.