Humility – G.K.Chesterton

My last post was about the value of conviction in preaching. That made me think about the value of conviction in everyday life, and reminded me of a quote by G.K. Chesterton. What he saw as a shifting mindset has become the dominant mindset today, one hundred years later. Our humility has been displaced.

What we suffer from today is a humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert — himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason. Huxley preached a humility content to learn from Nature. But the new sceptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. Thus we should be wrong if we had said hastily that there is no humility typical of our time. The truth is that there is a humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it is practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. The old humility was a spur that kept a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.

– Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

I pray that you would grow to be humble in your personal pursuits and unyeilding in your conviction.

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