When I was a child, swimming in public swimming pools, I quickly took note of the fact that things underwater looked distorted from above the water. For instance, looking down from the high diving board often amplified the depth of the pool. Or, even simply standing in the shallow end, where my head was above water, looking down, my hands, legs, and feet were not represented accurately. They looked wavering, shorter, and my skin color was off. The same was true when I was underneath water. Things above the water looked distorted, or incorrect. Trees, people, fences, the sky…it all got distorted.
In order to see things correctly underwater, I had to be under water. Once under the water, things looked in better proportion, etc. And in order to see things correctly above water, I had to be topside. A correct view of myself, or other things, was dependent upon the perspective of my vision—which was easily distorted by the surface of the water.
The way I like to define humility is to call it True Sight. One of my favorite scriptures as The Doctrine Lady blogger, and which defines the purpose of all my scripture study, pondering, and education is Jacob 4:13:
…for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.
We have all heard humility defined in countless ways. But, if we see humility as True Sight, or our ability to see ourselves (and others) as they really are—through the help of the Holy Spirit—then it is something that is extremely reachable.
Humility is far less difficult to understand and accomplish if we understand it is not about devaluing, minimizing, or discrediting our God-given blessings and talents. Nor is it about over-valuing others’ God-given blessings and talents. It is not about minimizing our personal worth or significance. Nor it is about over-valuing others’ worth and significance. It is about seeing things as they really are.
I love the parable of the talents, because a talent in the context of the parable was actually money. But blessings, strengths, and talents are spiritual currency. Thus, the parable is perfectly applicable and illustrates this idea of True Sight well.
All of the servants were given talents. One was given ten, another five, and the last was given only one. The amount of currency (monetary or spiritual) was different. But the fact that they were given talents in differing amounts had no effect upon their command—to go and invest the talents and return them to their Lord with usury (or interest).
The first two, who were given ten talents and five respectively, did not focus on how much they had been given. They focused only on investing their talents to the glory of their Lord. The last, however, devalued his talent by comparison—which in this case was to focus on, that, in his estimation, it was so little in comparison to the others. In a show of “humility,” as I like to say, he buried his talent and had nothing to show for it when the Lord returned and asked for an account of his stewardship. He basically says to his Lord, “You gave me so little that I figured your command to invest it and return it with usury (growth) didn’t apply to me.”
Can you see the devastation? This servant chose to get dramatic about the idea of humility and undervalue his talent. The solution was to, like the others, see truly what he had been given, own it, and use it in service to His Lord.
I often witness, and have been guilty myself, others not using their talents because it seemed to them that other people besides them had used their similar talents first—or seemed to be more talented. In a show of humility, I have buried my talents in deference to others. I actually made the assumption that because my talents were lesser God didn’t intend me to use them, which was why He had given others so much more than He had given me. I thought I was being humble. But I was burying my talents in a show of false humility.
Why? Why do we do that? Why did I do that? Because I was determined to remain under the water rather than to see the truth. God gave me a talent, or five, or ten. That is the truth. He has blessed me with blessings and gifts, and abilities, and talents—very different from others. But whether or not others use their talents has no bearing on my talents. It is not humility to bury one’s blessings, gifts, and talents, simply because they are lesser in number or capacity than others.
It is easy to allow Satan to convince us that God has given us passing gifts “just to be nice.” However, a study of the gospel and a deep study of the scriptures has taught me #whatgodislike. God does not do us favors—to pad our egos or to make Himself feel better. If we have a gift, blessing, endowment of knowledge or skill, or a talent, it is purposeful. It is not a mistake. The truth is, no matter the level of our talent, the seeming limit of its capacity, it has been given to us to use in God’s service.
Whether you or I have ten talents, gifts, skills, or blessings or ten thousand, our command is the same—to use what we have to glorify God. Humility is confidently owning what we are and what we have been given. It is seeing ourselves as we really are and owning it.
Here are some signs you are growing in True Sight, and therefore Humility:
You learn to gracefully accept kindness and compliments from others for whatever you have contributed or done.
You learn to gracefully appreciate the skills, knowledge, and talents of others without feeling threatened or competitive.
You learn to love yourself as you are and find joy in using your gifts, blessings, and talents to creatively serve your family, friends, and others.
You can confidently offer your talents without feeling superior.
You can easily accept when your talents are not asked for, especially when you feel you can do something better than others.
You appreciate others efforts at whatever level of learning, knowledge, or talent level they are currently at.
You offer your talents willingly without always requiring a monetary reward (in other words, the usury you seek, or validation, is not monetary).
When we learn to see ourselves and others with True Sight, humility naturally follows. We graduate toward a capacity for meekness (a whole other article).
If you are seeking humility, one way to seek it is through asking God to help you see things “as they really are,” especially you—all of you. Once you can see yourself truly, you will be able to own your worth and significance simultaneously with your complete dependence upon God (your Lord). Pray for True Sight.