REFLECTIONS ON HUMILITY


Humility, best described as the absence of personal pride, is hard to measure empirically. The problem is, of course, that once someone takes up the label, mightn’t they be proud in their claim to be a humble person?

Most virtues are typically considered to be a character strength that many desire to possess; yet humility doesn’t seem to get the same respect as the other virtues. To the contrary, pride, the polar opposite of humility, seems to be morphing into a modern virtue, e.g., “We’re No. 1!”; “Gay Pride”; “American Idol”; “keeping-up with the Jones” and surpassing them; or the ultimate Joe Kennedy quote, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser;” etc.

It appears that the lack of respect for the quality of humility is due to the nature of our Fall, wherein mankind pridefully sought to “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). That same pride continues to lurk within our nature; yet our magnificent God righteously brooks no rivals. It is for this reason that we find that our God prizes a humble-heart and that humility is uniquely valued within Christianity.

Have you noticed that all other religions regard humility as demeaning? At best, it’s a mere rung on the ladder to higher enlightenment and honor, as in Buddhism. Yet, Jesus washed His disciples’ filthy feet to show how much He valued service and to reflect the depth of the humility to which His people are called. He demonstrated that humility and service are honorable and do not signify a loss of dignity. To God, humility is the destination, not the path. A humble spirit brings us into alignment with our proper place in creation, so in the Lord’s eyes, it is the essence of moral piety.

As you know, it is a Christian’s imperative to be like Christ, so a follower of Jesus will recognize the following truths and live by them:
•  Humility is the proper attitude of a creature toward its Creator.
 •  Humility recognizes dependence upon God.
•  Humility demonstrates a consciousness of sin and recognizes the moral gulf between the Lord and us.

To clarify, a humble person isn’t necessarily self-deprecating, but rather, someone who is more realistic in how they perceive themselves and more accurate in the way they present themselves to others. Those who prize humility as a virtue also tend to be more helpful than those who are less humble. Other people do matter, and we can matter more to others if we matter less to ourselves. As the Word says, "In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3-4).

In opposition to humility, pride, said to be the root of all sin, exists in the human heart and engages mankind in a continual battle. Pride is the very apex of insolence toward God; therefore, a life that lacks humility of heart reflects the primary indicator of another "god" in that life. (The self, perhaps?) Since a humble heart does not trust in its own power and resources, it is the essence of devotion to the Lord. 

Though it seems paradoxical, it isn’t possible to offer God true worship without humility; yet without worshipping Him, we cannot be humble.

Scripture Sources:

Romans 12:10: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

James 4:10: Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

I Peter 5:5-6: Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Isaiah 13:11: I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud.


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