“These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23).
One spiritual danger mentioned in the final verse of Colossians chapter two is false humility, a characteristic that was touched upon earlier in Colossians 2:18. This subtle, but destructive attribute is reflective of a person who seems to be humble on the outside but is something quite different in reality. A person who engages in this type of behavior is someone who presents an appearance of humility in an effort to elicit praise from others.
Jesus drew our attention to the inappropriate nature of such conduct in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew…
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his followers, ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority to tell you what the law of Moses says. So you should obey and follow whatever they tell you, but their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they themselves don’t do them. They make strict rules and try to force people to obey them, but they are unwilling to help those who struggle under the weight of their rules.
They do good things so that other people will see them. They enlarge the little boxes holding Scriptures that they wear, and they make their special prayer clothes very long. Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to have the most important seats at feasts and in the synagogues. They love people to greet them with respect in the marketplaces, and they love to have people call them ‘Teacher'” (Matthew 23:1-7 NCV).
If pressed, these religious leaders surely would have denied such charges. Yet Jesus’ assessment of their conduct was undeniably true even if they chose to reject it. Nevertheless, we should also note that Jesus did not reserve such criticisms exclusively for those who were opposed to Him. Much like His candid appraisal of the Christians who attended seven first century churches in the book of Revelation, Jesus sees us for who we are and not how we are perceived to be. Perhaps even more sobering is the fact that our own hidden motives will eventually be known to everyone else as well.
A person who is secure in Christ has no need to present an appearance of humility in an effort to reap the praise of others. In the words of Colossians 2:10, we are “…complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”