Humility is one of the words that has been hanging out in my mind lately. I think it has to do a lot with my focus this year on joy and simplifying. True thanksgiving leads us to humility because we recognize that He is the Giver. This then leads to true joy because joy comes from experiencing the goodness and unfailing love of God. When we humble ourselves before Him, we are free to experience this.
“The quiet song of gratitude… lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gift the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts).
What I am noticing lately, is that God is teaching me and walking me through this process of joy. It involves humility. It involves simplifying. It involves forgiveness (and much more)…
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)
It takes intentionality to look to the Lord, surrendering my will, and asking Him to remove the pride and replace it continually with humility. What joy results! Oh, I want to learn this!
So what does humility look like? What does it mean?
Humble – not proud or arrogant, of low rank
Humility - modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. (dictionary.com)
These definitions are similar to the Hebrew and Greek words we have translated to humble, as well.
In Philippians 2:1-11 we see a picture of humility as displayed by Christ.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11 NIV).
Even though Jesus is God, His very nature, He humbled Himself by taking on a significantly lower rank – human. This was in order to become the final sacrifice needed to bring about the forgiveness of sins (see Hebrews 7, specifically verse 27). He was the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God (see John 1). This of course brought about salvation for all those who will call on the name of Jesus, in repentance and faith, as their Lord and Savior.
Furthermore, as His follower, I am to have this same attitude. What destroys humility is selfish ambition, vain conceit, and considering myself and my interests over others.
I remember the song my Granny would sing from time to time:
“Oh Looord it’s haard to be humble…when you’re perfect in ev-er-y waay…”
While this is a silly song, and she meant it in fun, you can probably think of someone in your life who really thought they were perfect in every way. Most of us would be able to point out this blatant pride and resolve to not allow ourselves to become so arrogant. However perhaps we didn’t realize that in this resolution, we may actually be asserting ourselves pridefully.
I am not going to be that arrogant.
At least in my experience I have found that if I am making a statement like the one above there are two things happening. I am deciding to rely on myself (on my own effort or goodness), and I am comparing myself to someone else. Both of these are dangerous.
It reminds me of the story Jesus told in Luke 18:
“And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”’ (Luke 18:9-14 NASB)
It’s quite simple to spot these Pharisee moments in others, but I need the Lord to continue to show me these moments of pride that are hidden deep within my heart.
In what ways am I being selfish, conceited, or considering myself as more important than others? This doesn’t mean that I am not important. I do need to take care of myself, but what it really boils down to is the heart motive. I need the Lord’s guidance for this because He knows my heart even better than I do.
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” (Psalm 25:9 NIV)
Think of the people in your life who have taught you what humility looks like. The people who come to my mind are people who have refreshed me deeply. Wouldn’t it be awesome to refresh others in the same way?
Sometimes we have to learn this lesson the hard way. But thanks be to God for teaching us this no matter what it takes!