The flattery of his brethren is distasteful to him!
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Touchstone of Humility" 1884)
A humble Christian is one who not only considers himself to be nothing — but is willing to be thought so by others. There is a vast difference between knowing our own faults — and being willing that others should know them. It is very mortifying to be accounted nothing in the eyes of our fellow-men. Now, the really humble man is content to bear this. He has no wish to be more highly esteemed than he deserves — in fact, the flattery of his brethren is distasteful to him!
And yet how utterly contrary is this to our natural feelings! The Drunkard would not wish his neighbors to know that he drinks — he would conceal it if he could. The Dishonest man would wish to appear honest before others.
And why all this desire at concealment? It is because people are anxious to keep up a good image before their fellow creatures — although they may have lost it with Him who knows all. The truth is, they 'love the praise of men, more than the praise of God.'
What a dangerous snare this is! To be thought well of by our brethren, and to stand high in their opinion — is too eagerly sought after by most of us. We have need not only to fight against the fear of man — but also, and still more, against the love and esteem of man. The esteem of godly men is well, as far as it goes; but it is clearly wrong to be always craving after it. We should rather feel that anything like flattering praise would be hurtful to us — and on that account we should shrink from it, and try to put it away from us.
It is hard, I know, to bring ourselves to this. To pray that we may become low in our own eyes — needs some grace. But to pray that we may be content to be lowered in the eyes of those around us — needs a large amount of grace!
Suppose you were to be informed that one, who stood high for his religious attainments, had expressed an unfavorable opinion of you — would not this be very displeasing? But I am inclined to think that a true Christian, though he would feel a little nettled at the time — would be able to thank God for anything which keeps down his pride, and sets him in his proper place!
The day is soon coming, when we shall be taken off the false heights which we often stand upon, and be brought to our true level — when all the esteem of others shall vanish and pass away like smoke — and we shall be just what God finds us to be, neither more nor less!