A final form of false humility often encountered in the world today is the cozy cover-up kind. This form of false humility is used to cover-up vices under the guise of a virtue. It is cowardice masquerading as meekness. It’s found in those who refuse to stand up for the truth under the pretense of their high regard for the feelings of others and their pursuit of peace with all men. These mice masquerading as the meek of the earth argue that we must be willing to compromise and avoid conflict at all cost, even at the expense of the truth, if we are to win converts rather than arguments.

This cozy cover-up humility can also be found in those who put themselves down in order to avoid putting themselves out. It’s the person who says, “I’d love to serve the Lord, but I’m just not good enough.” By saying such things they excuse themselves from the Lord’s service, as well as solicit the high esteem of others over their lowly opinion of themselves.

This kind of cozy cover-up humility is really slothfulness in search of sympathy. It’s the person who says, “I’m good for nothing” or “I can’t do anything.” It’s like a license for laziness; it can be whipped out at anytime to justify one’s idleness. “I’m not doing anything, because I’m incapable of doing anything. But at least I’m humble enough to admit it.”

The spineless and shiftless are found among both plebeians and aristocrats. Thus, many times there are extenuating circumstances in their lives. Yet, extenuating circumstances should never be confused with humility. Just because someone comes from humble beginnings or lives in humble circumstances doesn’t mean that they are humble. Though it may not be over their surroundings and substance, the down-and-out can be just as pride-filled as the high and mighty. There is no lack of “I” trouble in any strata of society.


A second kind of common tainted humility is what we’ll call “Mini-Me.” This is the pathological putting down of oneself found in people who are incapable of receiving a compliment. When complimented, they always feel required to put themselves down, lest they become puffed up with pride. A good example of this is the successful author who was once introduced to Thomas Mann. Humbled in the presence of the famous novelist, the lesser know writer called himself nothing more than a hack. Afterward, Mann remarked, “That man has no right to make himself that small. He is not that big.”

The Bible not only admonishes us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but it also teaches us how we ought to think of ourselves (Romans 12:3). According to the Apostle Paul, we are to think of ourselves according to God’s gifting of us. There is nothing wrong with evaluating ourselves on the basis of our God-given abilities, nor of graciously and gratefully receiving compliments from those who recognize and appreciate the abilities with which God has entrusted us.

Every time we fail to receive the compliments of others, we are actually missing out on a great opportunity to point others away from ourselves to God. While we should always be receptive of the compliments of others, we should never claim any credit for the abilities we have. Instead, we should always take the opportunity to give God the glory for having so graciously bestowed upon us such unmerited favor. There is certainly nothing prideful in that. What greater example of true humility is there than one’s diverting of praise from himself to God?


True humility is completely sanitized of self. It contains neither a smidgen of self or a pinch of pride. Just as crystal clear water is made impure by a single drop of poison, the least little leaven of pride leavens the whole lump of humility.

Untainted humility is a rare find in our day. Most of what passes for it is found to be thinly veneered upon closer examination. For instance, consider what we might call “panhandling humility.”

This popular practice is performed to manipulate others into singing our praises, while providing us with the perfect alibi to prove our non-participation in their rousing chorus. Here’s how it works. Someone so eschews himself as to embarrass others into coming to his rescue. For example, they publicly profess themselves to be “pond scum” in hopes of making others so uncomfortable that they will come to their defense with a compliment or two. Thus, their self-flagellation is actually their way of panhandling for flattery. The hand that they accusingly point to themselves is immediately thereafter stuck out for some accolades.