What is Humility? (June 5-11, 2000)
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What is humility?
I just can't seem to think right!
Most Christians have a healthy regard for humility. After all, God in His
Word extols and exalts this virtue in language that borders on the
incredible once you stop and think about it. Just listen to what He has to say!
"God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5, and
see also James 4:6). Can you imagine getting into a pushing contest with
God?! The proud do it all the time. The humble, on the other hand, receive
God's marvellous, matchless, loving grace. Grace -- what it takes to be
saved and to live successfully for God -- is granted only to humble. Amazing!
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up"
(James 4:10). How we thrive on recognition. What a blessing when others
rescue us in our debacles. Such a blessing to have encouragers in our
violent storms and bleak moments. And who wouldn't want God Himself to lift
us up? The better question is, Whom does God lift up? The humble!
The humble are on God's side. Of *course* we Christians will hold humility
in high regard! At least we do so conceptually. When we must actually
define or identify humility, especially in ourselves personally and
individually, we begin to get perplexed and perhaps even uncomfortable.
Humility is not thinking poorly of yourself. "I'm no good" or "She's a
better seamstress than I" do not illustrate humility. "I'm all thumbs when
it comes to singing" may be a great example of a mixed metaphor but not of
an humble spirit. Humility recognizes one's value, abilities and
accomplishments: Jesus "thought it not robbery to be equal with God"
Humility is choosing others first. Humility is the choice to not live a
self-focused life. Humility is choosing to be consumed with and by the
well-being of others. Humility is making the above choices when my
position, abilities, rights and power all entitle and enable me to put
myself first! Thus humility is a manifestation of strength, not a surrender
to weakness and inability.
Have you seen humility this week? I am sure it would be valuable for you
and your class to highlight examples of this grace. Examples are so much
more easy to follow than concepts! However, this practical side has a
rather ticklish element to it: Can we recognize humility in ourselves?
"Put on therefore . . . humbleness of mind" (Colossians 3:12) and "Be
clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5) both lead me to believe that the
answer is "yes." Humility is not some mystical grace that is undetectable
by those who possess it. I believe an humble person can recognize his own
humility without immediately losing it for having done so! (Just don't go
around trumpeting your humility. That's playing in the key of *mi*, which
isn't humility at all.)
We struggle with our thoughts, especially in this area of humility and
having the mind of Christ. Squeezing a solution into six lines may not be
all that difficult, if I let God's Word do the talking. I will limit my
commentary to underlining. You and God's Spirit take it from there. "Commit
thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established" (Proverbs
16:3). "Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ"
(2 Corinthians 10:5). Go in peace; your thinking will catch up with your
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