There are few statements in the Christian ghetto which I despise as much as this one, “the moment you think you are humble, you are not.” How is this helpful? It is the same as saying, “the moment you think you are swimming is the moment when you will drown and die a horrible death after which nobody will mourn your passing.”
What I think this statement about humility signifies is just how little we have made use of the fact that we belong to each other. The benefit and the genius of living together is that it is never you that says whether you are humble or not but those to whom you belong; it is not even up to you to be wrong! It is to those who I am building relationship with that the job of seeing me as I am is given, not to myself, for my definition of myself means nothing on its own.
I might think, “I hope I am humble” and even, “I think I have acted humbly lately.” There is nothing in this statement which suggests pride, it is what it is and ever will be: The self-statement of a person whose best knowledge of themselves is that their best guess is just that.
What I am wondering is, “How did the person who first suggested this formula get to the vantage point, high in the hills of humility, to see that those who think themselves humble are not?” He surely cannot have come from below, from the valley of pride.! Nor could he have hailed from the planes of humanity, where mere mortals attempt to describe their situation to each other. No, he must have come from the lofty mountains of arrival, and there is no more dangerous or illusory place than this. The thing that is the matter with the person’s perspective which posits this question is that they could never have possibly posed it without assuming that they themselves were humble, thereby proving by their own formula that they are not and thus have no claim to speak about what humility is whatsoever.