Eccl. 2:18-26


John 11:2


1 Cor.3:10-13

Often, in a bid to do good works we can get caught up in false humility and an attitude of self-righteousness. Both are acts of vanity, and count for nothing. We may be enduring great hardships by tolerating abusive relationships, or victimizing situations, caught in traps created by past hurts/strongholds of the mind/heart, accompanied by an attitude of self-righteousness and false humility because of what we erroneously believe must be endured. Wrongful submission is equally sinful to failure to submit to God’s call to action.

We may feel smug and superior because we believe we are being more religious, or holy, in some aspect than someone/everyone else. A self-righteous attitude is one which assumes a form of righteousness as having originated from within the self. Unfortunately, this source of righteousness is meaningless to God our Father, since “there is none righteous; no not one” (Rom.3:10; Eccl.7:20),  and “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa.64:6). Thus it is not only meaningless, but an affront to God, that one would claim to be righteous apart from Him. False Humility is a mask for low self-worth, a mindset of inferiority, timidity, passivity, and devaluation of self, all of which are fear-based, as well as fuelled by self-pity, a victim mindset.

False humility is a pretense, a cover-up. It assumes a position of humility through performing self-assuming, self-sacrificing acts, the undergirding of which is actually a passive aggressive bid for control with witchcraft at the helm. Such behaviour is an attempt to be viewed as super spiritual, or even a bid to gain sympathy/pity. Appearing as sacrificing one’s self in some way, subjecting oneself to some form of abuse and debasement, while expecting to be credited in some way for this uncalled for sacrifice, is a totally useless undertaking. While the individual is ensconced in self-pity and a victim mindset, the behaviour is actually rooted in pride and a need for control, a driving force that causes this individual to assume responsibility, when it is not even appropriate or called for. This type of false humility can be extremely manipulative and passive aggressive. True humility, on the other hand, while it may involve sacrifice, is not self-serving, self-debasing, and the opposite of pride/control, for it is not self-derived, neither is it motivated by self-pity, or the assumption of wrong responsibility driven by control needs, and thus is never manipulative, but rather a response to an assignment from God. It is, in fact, and act of surrender. The motives are different; false humility has self-serving at its root, while true humility is motivated by obedience to God.

It is most important to realize that unless we are called to a particular situation/action by God Himself, it will always bring negative consequences. Whether it may be religious rituals that we believe make us holy and superior, or allowing victimization, we need to know that God looks at the motives responsible for the  actions. Recall the example of the Pharisee: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘O God, I thank You that I am not like other people—thieving, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and tithe on all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, wouldn’t even lift his eyes toward heaven, but beat his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man, rather than the other, went down to his home declared righteous. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk.18:10-14). Further to this, Yeshua gave a severe tongue-lashing: “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. Fools! Didn’t He who created the outside also create the inside?” (Lk.11:39,40). The motive of the Pharisee was that of the external: to impress others; to appear holy, and righteous, while really being self-focussed, while the motive of the tax collector was sincere, from the heart. In one instance, the cup was being cleansed from the inside, through repentance; in the other, only the exterior was looking clean.

The word “vanity” is liberally applied to carnal thoughts, motives, desires, and behaviour,(I prefer the KJV word selection), especially throughout Psalms and Proverbs. The word “vapor” is also used interchangeably with “vanity,” indicating the fleeting, meaningless nature of our thoughts, desires, behaviour.  “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death” (Prov.21:6), and “Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (Ps.39:5). Words, thoughts, and behaviours which we often ascribe much significance to, simply don’t count for much in God’s eyes; they are, in fact, as nothing. “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Eccl.1:14).  Meaningless, unattainable – this is how the “works done” are viewed by God. Grasping at the wind = unattainable. Solomon, again at the end of Eccl. 2:18-26, defines all our human efforts as nothing more than “vanity and grasping for the wind.” They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit . . .” (Isa.44:9). Often the things that we consider important – the delectable things – are meaningless to God; they do not impress Him at all.

“It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” (John 11:2). Miriam, who was seated at the Master’s feet, listening to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; so she approached Yeshua and said, “Master, doesn’t it concern you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Then tell her to help me!” But answering her, the Lord said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and bothered about many things; but only one thing is necessary. For Miriam has chosen the good part . . .” (Lk.10:39-42). The action validated by Yeshua is the action done from the heart of worship, a relationship of intimacy, while He admonishes the one performed in self-righteous, and false humility. It is vanity, and counts for naught. Martha views herself as having made a noble sacrifice, and feels quite self-righteous about what she is doing, and thus indignant, critical, and judgmental of her sister for failing to do likewise. But she is focussing on what doesn’t count in the Lord’s eyes, while Mary is focussing on what is meaningful. This exemplifies the reality that only what is done from the heart, for the glory of God/Yeshua, and what He called for us to do counts for anything.

When we each come before God to give an accounting for our words and deeds: each one’s work will become clear. For the Day will show it, because it is to be revealed by fire; and the fire itself will test each one’s work—what sort it is. If anyone’s work built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss—he himself will be saved, but as through fire” (1 Cor.3:10-13). God will determine what actions were undertaken out of obedience, to serve our Lord and Master, to bring Him glory, and what actions were driven by self-glorification, self-serving motives, never called forth from God/Yeshua/Holy Spirit. Regardless of the possible outcome, those works which were carried out for any reason other than to bring God glory, out of obedience, in answer to God’s call, done from the heart, will be burned up in the flame of God’s devouring fire, and will count for nothing.

© 2017, revised 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.


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