Recently some friends of mine were talking about how this would be an awesome bumper sticker. I agree, I would laugh and honk if I saw it.
But this is not how humility works. It has been said the minute you got it you have lost it. But is this really true? Is humility so elusive that you can’t really even talk about it without failing the test and losing any credibility to speak on it?
So before I continue I want to emphasize that I do not think that I have it down. There, am I qualified to go on?
No I struggle with pride as everyone does. I own a mirror just like you do. Is the fact that I write a blog mean I am smug jerk who thinks he knows it all? Perhaps, but I am trying. Does that confession mean I am now humble? No, it may be elusive, but it can be talked about, because it is so important.
Humility is not simply an attitude or else we could easily attain it. Humility is a decision, but not simply one decision but ongoing decisions to not exert or demand your way of thinking. This gets hard because sometimes there is a right way to think on something and if you agree with this way of thinking then it becomes your way of thinking and then I fail the test again, Dang!
But thankfully humility in verse form is spelled out for us by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Great he brought Jesus into the mix, yes Jesus, Jesus himself is the ultimate example. We cannot obviously follow this specific example of giving up on the benefits of Godhood and becoming a mere human, but he does get the point across. I believe this passage reveals the parts of humility. Verse 3 hints at our motivations. Verse 4 hints at our actions. Verse 5 hints at a mindset. Verse 6 hints at selflessness. Verse 7 hints at servant hood. Verse 8 hints at obedience.
These do not sound naturally fun. That is the point, being humble is not natural. We naturally want to look out for number one. Naturally I want my motivations to benefit me, my ambitions are about my prosperity. Naturally I want my actions to benefit me, I want to improve myself, I want to be who I want to be. Normally my mindset is set on me, I am selfish. I want to have servants rather than serve, I want others to listen to me, to read my blog? And nobody likes the word obey, we do not want to be obedient. We react negatively to rules, this is that whole sin nature thing.
So humility is the opposite of what I naturally want. This is why James writes:
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:2 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
Jesus talks about the importance of humility from Luke 18.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus’ parable is very telling in regards to our sin and humility, it is not the one who doesn’t sin but the one who admits it and asks God for forgiveness. Humility is the only way to repent of sin. Without humility we will live our whole lives apart from God because we will not see our need for him like what happened to the Pharisees. Humility is the only way to approach God, humility is the only way to possess faith. Humility is disarming. Humility is how you keep your cool under pressure. Humility is approaching God on bended knee and not with a closed fist.
God emptied himself. This is not simply the “kenosis” passage for theological purposes, but God’s own example of humility to us. He wanted a relationship with us so he humbled himself. God willingly limited himself to take on the likeness of man in humility to reach us. This is not just a useful virtue, this is the only way to have a meaningful relationship with God. As it was his way to have one with us.
If God actively resists the proud, don’t be someone who God is against. That seems wise.
So I write today about Humility not because I have it down, but because it is so important.