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is not thinking less of yourself: it is thinking of yourself less.

Galatians 6:4–10

But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

This seems to start out contradicting the previous passage. Verse 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens.” Verse 6:5 says, “For each one shall bear his own load.” The Greek words for burden and load are different—a load is much lighter than a burden—but that’s not really the point.

The point is about comparing ourselves to others. Whether sharing a great burden with a team, or working alone on a small load, Christians should be focusing on the task at hand, not wasting time thinking, “What a good boy am I.” In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis gives this as the definition of humility:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. … He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

Lewis gives a beautiful example of this in letter Number 14 of The Screwtape Letters. (Warning for anyone not familiar with them: they’re written from a demon’s point of view; “The Enemy” is God.)

The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.

Tim Keller summarizes this as, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself: it is thinking of yourself less.”

The last paragraph in today’s reading may feel disconnected, but it’s not. If you have time, read the chapter in Mere Christianity titled “The Great Sin”—it’s only six pages—then reread today’s passage.

See how it all fits?

If you don’t have a copy of Mere Christianity, I strongly recommend buying one and taking the time to read the whole thing. Even better, get one of the boxed sets. They include Screwtape and other classics.

Mere Christianity is available, for free, in pdf form here.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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