We know that it is the "Christian" thing to be humble. Some can take it as far as to not think highly of themselves at all, as if taking any pride in what they do is a sin. Let me tell you something...it's not. I've experienced many instances where I've complimented a Pastor, guest speaker or worship team on their good work or message they brought. Instead of receiving the compliment with a simple "thank you", they say "Oh, don't thank me, thank God", or "Praise the Lord" or something along those lines. I will admit it, I've done it too. There is something uncomfortable about saying "thank you" to someone who just complimented you on a message you brought or something you shared that came from God.
To change perspectives here, it can actually be insulting to the person giving the compliment when you don't receive it.. or even worse, it can make you appear more arrogant, which is the one thing you are trying to avoid! How so? Well, simply put... It can come off as a parade of humility, that you're being humble on purpose for others to see just how truly humble you are...which is the complete antithesis of true humility. Do we do this on purpose? Well I bet most of us don't. It is not our intention to come off that way. Now I can't speak for others who have done this, but when I've neglected compliments in the past out of not wanting to appear prideful, the exact opposite happens after. What do I mean? Well, almost a year ago I shared a message at Calvary Campus Church. After the service, many people came and complimented me on what I shared. Instead of saying "thank you" I in turn just said, "Oh praise the Lord".
Body language is 80-90% of communication, so other than people telling me "wow, jerk" through body language, I had a small voice inside that said "Hey hey, you didn't take any of the glory. That's pretty humble of you. You're looking pretty righteous right now, not accepting those compliments...go you". Yep. I succeeded in "appearing" humble, but failed in truly being humble. And I think that is the problem. Too many of us focus on "appearing" humble to the rest of the world, when God simply tells us to just, well, be humble. How do we do this? We look to Christ as our example.
In Philippians 2 Paul gives us an example of Christ's humility.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Do not let each man look upon his own things, but each man also on the things of others. For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. "
You see, some have this mindset that we can't have any pride or self-esteem at all. As if to say "thank you" is a sin when sharing something God gave to us, or when we even do anything good at all. It's almost as if we think we need to have low self-esteem to be humble, to think lowly of ourselves and give all praise to God because we are worthless pieces of you know what. Guess what. That's not what we are. We were that before we came to Christ, but God bought us and made us His bride, and no good bridegroom would call his bride worthless.
If you look at Christ's example, here in verse six it states "(He) thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Does that sound like low self-esteem or worthless to you? No. Jesus was God, He knew He was God, He accepted He was God, but He became humble by being a servant. By putting others before Himself. By being obedient to the Father. That is true humility. Not your neglect of compliments, not your low-self esteem you purposely think you must have, not your pride that you try to shrug off when you accomplish something. There is a quote that is often attributed to C.S. Lewis, which states "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."
God didn't call us to be timid, to lack confidence, to be shy or fearful of appearing prideful. Because that's what we truly are when we think we must "be humble" so others don't think we're prideful. Be humble by simply thinking of yourself less, because you are thinking of yourself when you "try" to be humble. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with giving glory to God, we must! But when we do it to "be humble", it's not. Stop it and just put others above yourself. Serve others before you serve yourself. And for heaven's sake, just accept a dang compliment every once and a while. I assure you, you won't come off as an arrogant prideful jerk. But you will if you reject it.