Humility. Our society shrinks from the concept. Truth be told, humility goes against our human sin nature. Society tells us to pursue greatness and fame and fortune. I was once mentored by a pastor who told me that when he was a young man leaving the military to go to school to be a pastor, the military doctor doing his exit exam told him, “Why would you want to be a pastor? There’s not much money to be made in the ministry” The world tells us to look out for ourselves and make sure that our rights are not violated. The world tells us to tell everyone how great we are and to consider what’s in it for us before we commit to anything. Pride is the opposite of humility. I believe pride is a dangerous sin that causes great pain and leads to other sins. The subject of humility has been on my heart and mind this week, and so that is what I’m writing about in this blog post.
Jesus taught humility to His disciples. Matthew 20:25-28 Says, “But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” I love how Jesus turns our world upside down. He says, if we want to be great, we must serve. To some this may seem to make no sense at all. But the key to understanding this is understanding what God values, and Scripture makes it clear that God values humility and despises pride. James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I certainly don’t want to be in a position where God is resisting me, or where I am resisting God. Ken Blanchard said that, “EGO stands for Edging God Out.” There is a lot of truth in that. Pride makes us think of ourselves as better than everyone else. However, when we humble ourselves, we recognize our sin, and our helplessness. We recognize our need for God. When we humble ourselves, we will serve others, and when we serve others, we are putting aside our needs and desires and focusing on the needs of someone else!
Jesus not only taught humility, but He lived out humility. Philippians 2:7-8 says, “(Jesus) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus was willing to humble Himself to the point of death on a cross! I was at a pastor’s conference earlier this week and one of the speakers talked about this passage of Scripture and how Jesus was willing to give up his rights for us. He had a right to be in Heaven, He had a right to be protected by angels, He had a right to smite His enemies that were persecuting Him and taking His very life, but Jesus surrendered those rights in order to provide a way for salvation for the sinner. This Scripture has made me pause this week to consider the times when I have insisted on MY RIGHTS! I have asked myself this week, “Am I willing to follow Jesus’s example and humble myself to include giving up what I believe to be my rights” So many arguments and so much pain comes from us insisting on what we have convinced ourselves are “MY RIGHTS!”
A humble person does not compare themselves to others. Pastor Gene Wilkes says, “Biblical humility requires that we stop the comparison game. If we can’t gauge our progress by looking at others, how will we assess ourselves? By holding our lives up against God’s call to us. By comparing our character to the character of Jesus. No other standards apply. And when we use the Lord of the universe as our standard, it’s much easier to be humble.” I love this quote!
A truly humble person does not need to praise themselves to others. In life there is a temptation to talk about ourselves and all of great things we are busy doing. I recently listened to a message by Tom Elliff where he made the statement, “True humility means you trust your reputation to God.” In other words, rather than praising ourselves, we leave it up to God. God’s Word has a lot to say about humility. I believe that it is pretty clear that the road to greatness in God’s economy is to humble ourselves. We should not humble ourselves with a motive of receiving greatness, but rather, we are to humble ourselves and leave the rest up to God.