Richard Foster titled his new book: Learning Humility: A Year of Searching for a Vanishing Virtue. It makes more sense as I think back over the past few years in our culture and in the world.
There are two Greek words tied together, even though we translate them into English differently from the New Testament. One we translate “virtue.” The other we translate “righteousness.” What Foster found is that both words mean the same thing: “to function well.”
We have become so used to dysfunction in our world, we don’t have a good idea of what it means to function well. And culturally, we certainly don’t care for “humility” as much, either. We are self-consumed, not recognizing our dysfunction, and looking for attention at every turn.
When humility is developed as a virtue among communities like the Jews or Christians, the Roman world was laughing at the concept. In the Hellenistic world, humility was mocked. It was treated as “lowly.”
Our culture is more in a yelling mood right now than a virtuous mood. If we think our positions have “virtue,” we act as if the “other side” doesn’t have any decency whatsoever so our “virtue” must beat the living daylights out of their “unvirtuous” ways.
Foster’s title makes more sense the longer I consider the time in which we live. It is indeed a vanishing virtue, but one that those who search for God constantly need. We need to re-evaluate who we are as humans. We need true self-evaluation and that will deal with humility at some point. When that is not a virtue for us, our self-evaluation becomes dysfunctional and we repeat our cultural cycle.
I, for one, am ready to get off that hamster wheel.