We Americans have a love-hate relationship with that word. We hate to apply “humble” to ourselves, but we respect humility from others? Is it that when another acts humbly toward us we often come out the winner in the situation, but when we have to humble ourselves we feel as if we’ve lost?
James 4:6 tells us that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Yikes! That’s serious. Do we want to be in opposition with God? Don’t we want God’s favor, or “grace” as some versions translate it?
Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Completely humble? Really? Can’t I even put myself first occasionally? This is a hard teaching. It is a teaching that can only be obeyed when we allow the Spirit to conform us to the image of the Son of God.
Philippians 2 gives us some commands and our example to follow. It says:
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
The Message lays out thees first commands for us in language that hits home.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.Philippians 2:3-5 The Message
We’re no-good at forgetting ourselves or putting ourselves aside. Aren’t we trained from grade school to want to be the first in line? Haven’t we bought into our society’s push to get the advantage even at the expense of others. Even in Christian circles. We go online at midnight to get the prime seats for a Christian concert before someone else beats us out! America and Pride go hand in hand. I love America and am not trying to slight her, but we Americans have our failings. Worse, we Christian Americans are as caught up in the selfish, “me first” pride of our society as the world is.
I encourage you as I challenge myself, let’s choose “humble” as our moniker. Let’s let the Spirit teach us to choose humility. It may be only once this week or each day to start with. But as we seek to live as our Savior did we will begin to lay down that “striving for equality” and “one-up-man-ship.”
We will quit manipulating every situation to our advantage.
We’ll choose to make ourselves nothing.
We will willingly embrace the nature of being a servant to our fellow man.
We will choose to humble ourselves as Jesus did.
We will obey God – even to the point of self-denial and death to self-will.
That ladies, is our calling.