We think that humility means minimizing achievement and talent. “It’s nothing. I’m nothing” sounds humble to our ears.

It’s not. Better to be thorough Pauline. Paul doesn’t exactly maximize achievement, but he comes close: “I speak in tongues more than anyone” (1 Corinthians 14:18). “I labored more than anyone” (1 Corinthians 15:10). It doesn’t sound humble but it is because Paul boasts in a setting of gratitude: “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than anyone.” Gratitude and a recognition of God’s work: “I labored more than anyone, yet not I, but the grace of God in me.” The premise of Pauline humility is “You have nothing that you have not received.”

From a Pauline angle, “It’s nothing. I’m nothing” deconstructs into “God’s given me nothing.” Paul exposes our normal notions of humility as masks for ingratitude.

For Paul, magnifying achievement and talent is a way of magnifying God. Humility comes in the way of gratitude, which is the way of gift.

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