A gracious friend recently shared she is studying and working on the spiritual discipline of humility. 1 Peter 5:5 [NIV] states, “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” Familiar with some works by noted author and theologian Jonathan Edwards, I reviewed an article he wrote on the subject, and found it to be in alignment with this passage. Edwards stated that, “The man who is under the influence of a humble spirit is content with such a situation among men, as God is pleased to allot to him, and is not greedy of honor, and does not affect to appear uppermost and exalted above his neighbors.” Humility is not arrogant, proud, exalted, it does not seek to be in the front row. Humility is no respecter of person. It lovingly considers our status to be equal children made in the image of God. Edwards summarized his article by pointing out that humility:
- Seek for a deep and abiding sense of your comparative lowness before God and man.
- Know God.
- Confess your nothingness and ill-desert before Him.
- Distrust yourself.
- Rely Only On Christ.
- Renounce all glory except for Him.
- Yield yourself heartily to His will and service.
Self-examination and quiet reflection is designed to gain insights. I certainly have and will continue to do so on the topic. For in looking at this essential characteristic, I know I must continue work on being more humble. Our culture does not extol this virtue. Let’s face it, there are not as many stories shared about the truly humble. Could you, at this moment name 10 people who you consider to be humble? Who would be on your list? Family members, celebrities, sport figures, politicians, historical personages, etc? Right now millions of people around the world, myself included have spent precious resources developing and organizing information to promote themselves, their causes or interests. Self promotion is the new normal, and much of it does not lend itself to being humble. As children of God, we are instructed not to think more highly of ourselves. Because there is an inherent danger in promoting a message, and being the messenger. Even Jesus, at different times told those he healed to not broadcast who healed them to others. Clearly, our Lord understands the insidious temptations involved, as well as our own self-interests. He experienced it during his earthly ministry. There were those ready to thrust Him into being a King even among his disciples. But Christ came to serve.
In Isaiah 57:15, scripture tells us God inhabits the humble, and requires us to walk humbly with Him Mic.6:8. Our Lord gave us the perfect portrait of humility when He emptied himself, and became a willing servant, even to the cross. Picture the evening when he washed the disciples’ feet. How could the Lord stoop to do such a thing? Our Lord is always the benchmark. Humility speaks to us to open a space in our hearts for others. The disciples needed an example, and now in this age there are many, many others needing real life examples of Christ-like humility. When we perform our work with a humble spirit we bring glory unto the Lord. No matter the occupation, season, calling or the recipient, it is to be carried out just as Jesus washing those feet. Oh yes, humility is an essential part of the Christian experience, and it creates true servants of the most High God.