Last week Laura Brumley, she of A Practice in Belief fame, wrote a little article she entitled (rather verbosely, I thought) “blogging, the ninth commandment, and your prerequisites to reading this blog.” It seems odd to me that Laura can read “A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans and Calvin’s Reply” and “The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love” but she cannot capitalize her titles. But I digress. That post coincided with my reading of Humility, the most recent of Wayne Mack’s books and what I trust was some deeply biblical teaching on the value of humility. And then I received in the mail a DVD presentation by Sovereign Grace Ministries entitled Milestone Weekend. Let me weave together the two of these seemingly isolated events.
Laure wrote the following:
When I set up and maintain my little corner in cyberspace, it is obviously a rather controlled environment in which to present myself. I have the final say in how you see me (figuratively and literally), I am able to choose my words more carefully (in the means of communication that I most prefer, writing), if you comment and I find your last name, I can do a modified background check on Google…and so on. Needless to say, this is not the most natural form of interaction. This is where people get the idea that blogging is creepy, and that the Internet is for people who “have no life.” I’m inclined to grant them that it certainly could be that way…
…I’m going to try to be more mindful of my duty to ensure that you are getting a truthful picture of Laura Brumley – as if, we could say, I were writing a autobiography for everyone who knows me best to judge for its accuracy.
What struck me was Laura’s desire to present to her readers an accurate depiction of who she is. I reflected on that and came to realize that I have not always been entirely truthful in what I have written. I’m sure you understand that it is a difficult thing to post personal articles or reflections for all the world to see. This was not even so difficult a year ago when I was far more isolated, but recently I have more often emerged from behind my keyboard and have actually had face-to-face meetings with people who read my site. I often now find myself in the odd position of meeting people who know a lot about me when I know nothing (or almost nothing) about them. They know about my theology, my family, my likes and dislikes and even my struggles, while I know only their name. Now don’t get me wrong – I have found it extremely edifying to meet these people and have enjoyed it tremendously, but sometimes, in the back of my mind, I find myself wondering what they really think of me. I wonder if the reality of who I am will match the version I portray on my site. In my more lucid moments I realize that most people would not even stop to think about it.
Despite that, the tendency I find myself drawn towards at times is to present a glorified, sanitized version of myself in my writing. It is easy to leave out details or to maybe just change them a tiny bit to present a somewhat less than accurate but more likeable version of myself. It is easy to remove my flaws, doubts and disillusionments.
But that is not the only temptation. I am also tempted at times to be less than honest in my opinions, beliefs or understanding of certain topics. I sat down and thought of a few times where I have not taken a hard line on an issue when I know in my heart what I really believe. I came to see that I often avoided confrontation either because I simply did not care to have to deal with the potential fallout of such a stand (though the fallout would likely be little more than having to defend myself in a few comments from readers or potentially a bit of nagging and cajoling from the folks at Boarsheadtavern). Or maybe I’ve worried that I would so offend or disgust readers that they would never return. Of course I do not get paid for every reader that comes here (or paid in any other way, for that matter) so this hardly matters. I guess it all comes down to pride.
Ah yes, Pride, the very opposite to humility. “Pride is the shirt of the soul,” said George Swinnock, “put on first and put off last.” Jonathan Edwards compared pride to an onion. “It takes many forms and shapes and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion – when you pull off one layer, there is another underneath.” I was surprised to see that pride had taken that deep a hold in this area of my life. I had allowed it to so influence me that I was willing to speak partial truths or to stop just short of what I believe in order to satisfy my pride.
Through reading Mack’s book and through reflecting on C.J. Mahaney’s book (also titled Humility) I saw not only the importance of humility but also biblical teaching on its practical application. Through watching the Milestone Weekend DVD I saw people reflecting on C.J. Mahaney who is, from all accounts, a truly humble man. Through reflecting on the 9th Commandment I realized the absolutely importance God places on honesty and humility. And through it all I was convicted that one way I can practice godly humility is to be more honest in the presentation of myself and my beliefs.
I am not saying that things will be vastly different around here. I am not going to begin haphazardly pouring out the secrets of my soul. But I will take stands where I know I should take stands and I will seek to either give the whole story or give nothing at all. In short, I will seek to remove the pride which keeps me from truly honoring God’s 9th Commandment. I trust I will be the better for it.