2020 has been very good to me. Having been a Christian for a long time now this fills me with foreboding, since I know from experience God doesn’t spare the rod in his zeal to raise faithful children. And as an old man (or at least an aspirant thereto), I prefer to learn things the easy way. So I’ve been meditating on how to avoid hubris and remain humble in the face of good times, so as to avoid the necessity of being retaught these virtues through chastisement.
The traditional advice, as I understand it, is to study great men and learn humility by a sense of relative inferiority. This is folly. To compare oneself with a peer group of great men is to presuppose these superior men as peers, firstly, which leads to hubris. We can observe the wages of this in the pedestrian follies of those who spend their heroic talents on heroic levels of dilletantism. To avoid comparison with lesser men is alienating, secondly, and leads to inhumanity. We can observe the wages of such creatures in Silicon Valley and the final circle of hell, which is reserved for men who conspicuously failed to mention that feelings of shared kinship were not mutual.
The best answer I can think of is to meditate on God’s impending judgment with fear and trembling. In fact, the best sign of imminent destruction is a man who looks to the day of judgment with a sense of gleeful abandon. This does not indicate a realistic sense of perspective, much less wisdom. God demands much more than our best, which he describes as filthy rags. The greatest saints knew this: at their best moments, they should have done better. Much better. If we are confident let it be because we remember, from the all-too-recent creases in our ass cheeks, that God is great in patience and mercy. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed. Therefore let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.
Remember, the Babylonians didn’t spare the unborn children or the prophets, and that judgment seat is never more than a heartbeat away.