“Humility precedes honor.” – Proverbs 18:12
True humility is a rare virtue these days. It is elusive in my own life and almost extinct on a national level. It seems as though everyone is increasingly clamoring for and clinging to honor. We crave honor and glory, so we have no appetite for shame. In fact, we recoil from it.
We seek to rise above the shame and find ourselves buried by the weight of true glory. So we tell ourselves that beauty is something to be created and used at our pleasure. It has the weight of molded plastic not carved granite. Everything is beautiful in its own way. Like Orual in Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, we see the one demanding worship as ugly, dark, and cold. What we fail to understand is that we are Ungit. We are the dark, ugly ones demanding worship- demanding the life of others. Your life for mine. (If you have not read Till We Have Faces, stop right now and go read it!)
We seek to flee from shame and are enslaved by the very fear that urges us to flee. What our culture doesn’t understand is that shame cannot be avoided. There is no shameless existence. But it can be crucified. Honor cannot be grasped but it can be received.
I have no need to fear humility. I have no need to fear exposure. Until I acknowledge the shame, then a truly honorable life is an illusion. In our sin, we fear what can make us beautiful. So we clothe ourselves in artificial beauty. We cover the shame with cultural fig leaves. Only the truly glorious can bestow glory. Only in the beatific vision does the shadows of shame get washed way in the light of gospel glory.