Have you ever given a compliment and heard a “who me?” with a hand on the chest type of response? (for instance: What a beautiful dress. What, this old thing?).
When I think about it, I see it as a strange response and one that I know I’ve been guilty of giving. In these instances, the receiver of the compliment is normally appreciative of the accolade but is resting on the desire to appear modest. Often it comes across as fake.
False modesty is a difficult sin for us to identify in ourselves because it can be cloaked in what we convince ourselves to be true. It works its way into our prayers, our culture, and our everyday lives.
The bottom line is that false modesty is a sin that is deceitful. It’s filled with a lie we tell ourselves, as well as others. It requires that we mask our true emotions, as well as potentially re-writing truth in our own minds. The one who falls prey to false modesty could pretend to appear poorer, sadder, or more sacrificial than the next person. While these could seem to be great Christian attributes, it is really a giving into human indulgences (Colossians 2:23).
This is also a sin that is filled with pride. In Colossians 2:18, Paul cautions against those who have false humility as being “puffed up without reason.” (*sidebar* when would it be with reason to be puffed up?). When we are puffed up with big heads, we are self-focused, rather than God-focused. This isn’t an overt sin that others may see in us but make no mistake…our all-knowing and loving Father sees this exactly for what it is. Lies wrapped in pride = sin.
False modesty when found out by others impacts our own reputations. Subsequently, it impacts how others are willing to interact with us. If we don’t have true humility our co-workers could see us as a show-off, our families could see us as know-it-alls…and worst non-believers could make decisions about their own salvation based on their interactions with our falsely modest selves.
If you are seeing this as a sin in your own life, I pray that you can confess that to the Lord and work at repenting. The last thing we want to do is impact someone’s decision about where they will spend eternity based on a dumb comment (what, this old thing?!?!) in order to simply dismiss a compliment.