Humans can be notoriously bad at discernment, even when we possess all the tools to do well.
Our ability to quickly process pattern-finding serves us well, and is one of our utmost skills. But, the same trait can be used to our detriment, as well as our happiness, depending on our circumstances. It can leave us worrying, rather than virtuous (Phil. 4:6-8).
Self-admittedly, I find myself second-guessing plenty of my first-impressions, or even second-intuitions. That which I think is true, turns out to be false; and things which appear valuable turn to ash in my hands.
If the rest of life is in any way like scholarship, in general, it seems to involve an an interesting mix of confidence and humility—refining your opinions as they come. Part of the biblical blessing we receive from God’s word tells us ‘things are not always what they seem.’
The way of life is the way of the cross. He who gains his life shall lose it (Matt. 10:39). The younger shall rule the older (Jacob and Esau). Jesus serves the best ‘wine’ last (John 2:10).
All that’s intuitive about life is turned on its head; and, our first-impressions can be horribly wrong. And, so the best of us tend to be the most humble, the salt of the earth.
There actually are actually practical dimension to humility. Humility helps you acquire skills you otherwise wouldn’t have, and meet people who can help you—that you would otherwise not meet.
Samuel describes this in the life of David, the young shepherd contrasted against tall and talented Saul.
When elected, Saul was meek and hid himself, humbly avoiding the kingship. He seemed like the perfect king, an ideal ruler for God’s kingdom. Saul had all the skills, and the humility to go with it. He never stayed humble, however; and, this choice of leader is replayed when Samuel comes to Jesse. All David’s brothers are put before the prophet; yet, the Lord choses none of them, for he looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
Even Samuel, the prophet wonders what Yahweh sees in David.
Like Saul, Dickens replays this false humility in the life of Uriah Heap. He is given a name which makes it seem like he is innocent (remember, Uriah is the Hittite soldier whom David steals Bathsheba from, 2 Sam. 11:3-4), and keeps telling everyone how ‘humble’ he and his family are.
Yet, in a twist of fate, he turns out to be the main villain of David Copperfield.
In contrast to the false Uriahs, who only pretend to be humble we pray for true humility, and trust that despite the way it looks, God has it all figured out.