We resist humility.
As Christians, we prefer to face life armed with moral certitude. After all, we believe strongly in Good Things: marriage, Christian education, liturgy, personal and societal morals, and countless exacting points of theology which we have labored to fine-tune to precision. And we have the authority of Scripture, Confessions, Catechisms, and Ecclesiastical Tradition on our side…not to mention intellectual acuity and eloquence!
We like certainty. It feels safe to be certain. Of our beliefs. Of our rightness. Of our staunch resistance to the decay we see around us and our unwillingness to compromise. Our faith is strong and secure. Therefore…we declare. Some of us declare silently within ourselves. Others of us declare out loud…via conversation, sermons, social media, or even…blogs!
The problem is that all too often, those declarations have much to do with our own faithfulness and little to do with the faithfulness of Christ. It easily translates into pride and superiority, making our voice repulsive to our hearers.
We become like Peter who, I imagine, was entirely persuaded when he declared, "Even if all of these fall away because of you, I will never fall away. Even if I have to DIE with you, I will never deny you!" We all know how that turned out.
Peter, like us, had the wisdom of the Proverbs at his disposal: "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."
But humility is a hard-won virtue that often comes to fruition only after we have "declared" and subsequently found ourselves on our knees weeping bitterly and pleading for mercy because we, like Peter, have done the very thing about which we proclaimed, "I will never…!"
The Good News is, that though God resists the proud, he gives grace to the humble. Christ waits for us in that place and looks on us with understanding and compassion. Our failure…our denial…are not the final words. The Final Word is the Word of Life who raises us from our knees, declares his constancy in spite of our inconstancy, and then sends us out as witnesses with a new and faithful declaration: the Forgiveness of Sins.
Though we resist humility, our Lord will see it formed in us so that when we declare His Truth, it will be sweet as honey to our hearers. We will be heard…and believed.