I know precious little about humility. However I know one big thing: God wants it in His people.
Scripture is filled with teachings, examples, violations, commands, and encouragements regarding humility. Nothing cinches it for believers like knowing that even Jesus Christ was humble and became our example. Try these passages for starters: Matthew 11:29; John 13:14-15; Philippians 2:5-8.
Scripture tells believers to put on humility (Colossians 3:12), be clothed with humility (I Peter 5:5), and to walk with humility (Ephesians 4:1-2).
The Lord wants His children to be humble so badly that He has given us seven aids to accomplish this and to keep us that way.
1. Common sense.
Look around at the billions of people. You’re just one of them. Look above at the jillions of stars. You’re sitting on one small planet circling one humble star. They’ve been around for eons, while you have only a few more years of life here. If that doesn’t humble you, you’re not paying attention.
2. The Holy Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, humility…. (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. Our family.
I heard the wife of a well-known preacher say on television once–and probably shocking some in her audience–“I tell my husband, ‘Don’t start that big shot thing with me. I saw you in your shorts this morning.'”
The old adage says, “No man is a hero to his valet.” Likewise, to the Obama children, Barack is simply “Daddy.” To Billy Graham’s offsprings, he is “Daddy.” None tiptoe into his presence and genuflect.
4. Our friends.
Those who are your closest friends are not in awe of you. They will tell you your breath smells bad, you need to use a hankie, or that you have a stain on your clothing that you had not noticed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).
5. Affliction, hardship.
You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you…. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
Scripture cites so many instances of this, it’s hard to know where to start. God let Israel fail to conquer the tiny city of Ai to humble them because of sin in their camp. He let Samson fail because of his headstrong ways. Same with Nebuchadnezzar. Time and again, God allowed foreign nations to conquer Israel and dominate them until they humbled themselves and cried out to Him.
A friend in the ministry told me that after his wife left him, thus ending his pastoral ministry that had made him a household name in his part of the world, God truly humbled him. I said, “My guess is you are doing far better work for the Lord now than before.” He said, “I was working for myself before. Now I work for Jesus.”
Nothing drove Moses to stay close to the Almighty like the constant carping of the Israelite people. Many pastors have had to stand in the pulpit and deliver God’s message to people who were looking for flaws and eager to pounce on any mistake he made. It’s an awful way to live, but God can use this in his life to build character and deepen his commitment to Christ.
As I write this, something just happened. A few days ago, an online pastors’ service picked up an article from my website and forwarded it (with my approval of course) to over 100,000 on their mailing list. Ever since, my mailbox has been clogged with comments and responses, almost entirely favorable. However, this morning a negative note came. A layman let me know he was the type of church member I was addressing and that I was entirely wrong. I answered him and should have moved forward. But since, I’ve gone back and reread his note and even printed it out. His criticism will linger with me far longer than the endorsements.
Okay, so we have all these influences converging on little old us to keep us mindful that we are puny, dependent, limited, weak, ignorant, and sinners.
A gospel song expresses it like this–
I thought number one would surely be me;
I thought I could be what I wanted to be.
I thought of myself as a mighty big man.
But I can’t even walk without You holding my hand.
Question: Why do we have to keep learning these lessons? Why does pride become such a dominant, malignant factor in our lives?
Answer: Because we live under a constant barrage of forces that neutralize humility. Here are 7 of them, these forces that work against humility.
Continue reading “Humility: Getting It and Keeping It” »