I have learned over the years that there is nothing more beautiful than true humility. Unfortunately, it is a quality that is hard to find in this world in this day and age. We live in a culture where the proud, the selfish and the self-centered often seem to get ahead. Whether unknowingly or not, we often condone or even encourage self-promotion and a “me first” attitude as virtues. The Bible clearly says otherwise. Just to quote a few verses:
Just as God calls us to be holy, he also calls us to be humble. It says in Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” It never really occurred to me that the God we worship is a humble God until the idea was brought up in a bible study with my church small group. The word humble seems contradictory to our idea of who God is, the omnipotent, all-knowing, sovereign God. But as we see time and time again in the Bible, the humble and lowly have a special place in God’s heart. He favors, looks kindly upon and gives honor to the humble. To those who are haughty and proud, He mocks and brings down. Just as God calls us to be holy because He is holy, God also call us to be humble because He is humble. Jesus says in Matthew 11: 29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
True humility emanates from within as a natural product of
our understanding of who we are in relation to others as a result of
our relationship with God.
But what is true humility? How do we become humble? Humility cannot be faked. True humility emanates from within as a natural product of our understanding of who we are in relation to others as a result of our relationship with God. It’s neither an attitude of inferiority nor of disguised superiority. It’s just an honest realization of who we are and whose we are. A Christian friend once told me that in relation to God, we’re all beggars. And when it comes to Christians and non-Christians, we’re just beggars telling other beggars where to find food. In God’s eyes, we’re all in need of Christ.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to serve dinner to a group of homeless individuals through a program organized by the South Oakland Shelter here in Michigan. SOS’s mission is to work to end homelessness by mobilizing interfaith and community resources. They work with several local congregations to provide temporary shelter and meals to individuals who have been displaced from their homes, while also assisting them in finding work so they can get back on their feet.
From our human perspective, it’s easy for us to think that we’re in a superior position than these individuals and feel good about ourselves for taking time from our busy lives to help them out. I didn’t have much time to get to know these individuals well enough to know their story and how they got to where they are today. It may be true that at this point in time, we may be in a position to provide them with food and shelter, but I would venture to say that they, in turn, are in a position to teach me some invaluable life lessons that can only be learned thru experience.
True humility moves us to care for the well being of others,
even before our own.
The same goes with my experience with short-term mission trips. People have said to me, “It’s so nice that you’re sacrificing your time to go help those people.” To be honest though, I always feel like I take away much more from the experience than I could ever offer the people I encounter. Thru my interactions with the people of Kenya and Nicaragua, where I’ve spent time on missions, they have taught me what it’s like to be content with little and that true joy does not come from having material things. They have taught me how to pray with urgency and fervor. They have taught me what it’s like to completely depend on God for everything.
True humility moves us to care for the well being of others, even before our own. It says in Philippians 2: 3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” In John 13:1-17, Jesus shows us by example when He washes the feet of each of His disciples and tells them to do likewise. We can always look to Jesus and His life to understand and know what it means to be humble. As I shared on last year’s Good Friday post here, the passage in Philippians 2:5-8 always comes to mind when I think of humility, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
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