“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” — James 1:17
As a recent college graduate, I’ve come to this conclusion: I don’t own a lot of stuff. The couch I have came with the apartment, I borrowed some of my textbooks from friends, and I’m drinking coffee out of a mug someone got me for Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s pretty typical of a 20-something, but I’d be dumb to brag about those things. I didn’t earn them. I benefited from the generosity of others.
Similarly, James 1:17 reminds us that every good gift comes from God. Did you catch that? Every. Good. Gift.
Your job? From God. The people in your life who’ve supported and mentored you? From God. Your personality? God given! Your abilities, gifts, and talents? Yup, God.
What if we took that perspective and applied it to our daily lives? How would that affect our gratitude and humility? Realistically, IF something in your life is truly good, it comes from God because only God is good (Matt 19:17). That means the accomplishments you’re proudest of — you didn’t really earn them. At least, not by yourself. God gave them to you.
Every once in awhile when I work hard and save money to finally purchase something for myself, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with it. While that’s not a bad thing, we must fight to put it in perspective. After all, it was God who provided me the job, God who gave me my abilities, and even God who gave me the work ethic and discipline to save.
Can you be proud of your efforts? Yes, of course, so long as you recognize that God gave you both the opportunity and ability to do it.
Maybe that’s what we get confused about humility. Maybe we should stop trying so hard to “be humble” and start remembering how much has been given to us. A mentor of mine says it this way: “True humility is not saying ‘I am nothing,’ but ‘I possess nothing.’ Every ability I have is a gift from God.”
It’s funny, I’ve rarely been tempted to take credit for the couch that someone else gave to me.