Monday, July 6, 2015

Humility Doesn't Need to be Humiliating

It's a quality we all want to possess, but generally we don't want to live through the circumstances that aid us in acquiring it. Humility. defines humility as a "modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc." Its most direct opposite is pride.

It's a Catch 22 with humility.  If you believe you are humble, generally you are not.  If your life is truly marked by humility, you likely are not even thinking about yourself.  You are considering others first.

But, this doesn't just happen on its own.  Many times devastating, life-altering circumstances are what lead one to become humble in nature. Perhaps a health issue. A job loss. A broken relationship. 

Sometimes, even good things can stand in the way of God's best for us.  The great Charles Swindoll once referred to these good things in our lives as "crutches" that hold us up artificially.  And, like only God can, He can kick these crutches out from under us so that the only way we can keep from falling is to lean on Him, and Him only. This brings about the humility God wants so desperately for our lives to flourish.

The Bible talks an awful lot about humility, so it must be pretty important. Here's just a small sampling of these scriptures:

  • True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. Proverbs 22:4 (NLT)
  • Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 (NLT)
  • Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor. Proverbs 18:12 (NLT)
  • If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 (NLT)

Often, when bad things in life come our way, we tend to live in humiliation rather than in humility.  A close synonym for humiliation is shame.  We live in shame, punishing ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to give it over to the Lord. This is not what God wants.  He desires humility, not humiliation. Meekness, not shame. Modesty, not degradation.

I cannot emphasize enough that humility is a process.  It will not happen in an instant...but, in an instant, our lives can certainly be transformed from a life marked by pride and selfishness to one that begins to gravitate toward living how Jesus lived.

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 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! Philippians 2:3-8 (NIV)

Don't set a goal of becoming more humble. It won't happen.  Instead, try to live your life in such a way that others can see God at work in and through you. 

Brokenness leads to humility, and humility leads to riches, honor, and life (Prov. 22:4). Who doesn't want that trade-off?

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