The Vice of Self-Confidence

Unknown-3Society is terribly insistent on the virtue of self-confidence. We attend seminars to get it. We go on diets to get it. We work out to get it. We go to church to get it. We seek praise to get it. We religiously post to Facebook to get it. Yet, with every poorly “liked” post, or failed diet, it wanes. Like caffeine, no matter how long we hope to have it, it eventually ebbs away.

Those on the self-confidence bandwagon are placing their identity in the wrong thing! We ought not to be so confident in the self. As Michael Reeves puts it in his excellent devotional Rejoicing in Christ,

Reliance on ourselves is no option in light of the cross. However fantastically marvelous we may think we are, the cross is God’s verdict on us as sinners. It annihilates even the possibility of finally placing our trust in ourselves.[1]

This is not inconsistent with a humble confidence in one’s own abilities. The difference is one of core identity. Do you find your identity in Christ or in your own abilities to do or become something or someone? Do we humbly acknowledge our abilities as a gift from God or think that we are the source and sole determiner of our gifts and abilities? As Reeves continues,

Christians are people who have given up all claims to both our badness and our goodness—and instead gotten him. Thus it is with no with no self-confidence but all boldness that Paul can write, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).[2]

Self-confidence, popularly conceived is not a virtue. It is a vice. It has at its root pride.

What is pride? It is a kind of self-preoccupation. It has, as Peter Kreeft so vividly puts it, “ingrown eyballs.”[3]

What is humility? Again as Kreeft puts, it, “Humility is thinking less about yourself, not thinking less of yourself . . . Humility stares outward in self-forgetful ecstasy.[4]

We ought to be confident people, but so often this confidence is misplaced. We ought to be confident in Christ and in humble gratitude admit and employ our God given abilities for His glory. Do you want to be a great person? Then turn to Christ, in humility, and strive to rid your core identity of anything but Him.

 

 

[1] Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 62.

 [2] Ibid.

 [3] Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1992), 103.

 [4] Ibid., 100, 103.

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