This last week I’ve had one of those “sacred echo” moments where everything I read pointed back to one word: humility. My Advent reading,
a message I listened to, a Facebook post, Scripture…all declaring a point of purpose: “Are you listening, Kristin?” I’m trying, Lord. But, humility is a painful lesson. Honestly, I waver between pride (unbending self-righteousness) and pride (thinking I’m nothing and nobody likes or appreciates me). I’m often self-absorbed. There’s the ugly truth of it.
In our culture–even within the church at times–we disdain humility. “Well, I’m not going to become an apathetic doormat.” We think that humility leads to a lack of conviction or passivity, but quite the opposite is actually true. When we get our eyes off ourselves and focus on the Lord, He gives us the boldness to follow Him without fear of the disdain of men. John Piper puts humble strength this way: “God-confidence is the best source of courage. And only humble people lean on God for confidence. In other words, fear of man is a sign of pride, not gospel humility” (Greatness, Humility, Servanthood…)
Humility is not self-deprecation either. Humility says that I am nothing without Christ, but because of Christ, I am capable (Phil. 4:13). I am a chosen child of the King. Because we know we are treasured by our Creator, we don’t have to squander energy and efforts to get the acceptance of others. We need to merely listen to HIS commands over our lives and follow him with diligence and grace.
Scripture clearly tells us that honor doesn’t come without humility. And wisdom is linked to humility (Prov. 11:2. Prov. 15:33, Prov. 22, 4). “Humility agrees and is glad that this servanthood (Mark 10:42-44) is true greatness” (Piper). Now, we can serve others out of humility, recognizing we are all undeserving sinners in possession of the gift of grace, or we can serve out of pride (making ourselves feel more important and valuable than we are, so others will recognize and praise us). Service done in pride is legalism. Sometimes we acquiesce to the demands of others, not because we are doing the right thing in service to someone’s needs, but because we are afraid of disapproval or rejection by man. We compromise the truth and our convictions to “keep the peace.” This is not true humility either.
True humility defends the needs of others, not self. True humility stands up for the lost, forgotten, and abused. Humility always speaks the necessary truth, but does so with grace, forgiveness, and love. Humility serves to lift others up and then gives all the credit to God. Jesus is our example; when he was mocked, accused, and condemned, he didn’t defend himself, BUT he was quick to defend others. He protected the woman caught in adultery; he stood up for Mary when she poured the expensive perfume on his feet and was ridiculed for it. He rebuked the legalism of the Pharisees and the self-absorbed perspectives of his disciples.
Be careful. Don’t assume you are ever beyond the reaches of pride. “The wise person assumes the battle between humility and pride is always raging in our hearts” (She Reads Truth). Pride can take a variety of forms. Ask yourself what you fear most, and therein creeps your pride.
*The rejection of man? Their disapproval?
*The control of another?
*Losing status or money?
*Not being good enough/sufficient enough to do it all yourself?
God is the one who plans and controls the past, present, and future. Trusting Him to be God requires humility.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
“I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master.”
PRAYER FOR HUMILITY
God, I recognize that every day, I exhibit pride; it’s most wretched when I think I’ve got it all together. It’s pitiful when I try to find my confidence in the praise of others. Help me make Your Name, Your Glory, and Your Plan mine. Help me to be God-confident so I’m secure in who I am what You’ve called me to do, regardless of how well I’m accepted or liked. From the manger to the cross, You showed us perfect humility, while remaining bold and active. Help me to move forward with You–eyes on you and not myself. Amen.