Humility. God’s Spirit has convicted me that this is a deep spiritual truth, and key to living a victorious life in Christ. It is related to the last post Jesus Said Be A Servant. The teaching of humility is probably the most overlooked and least understood in the Church today, even though Jesus taught it throughout the Gospels.
Humility Leads to Exaltation
I have never heard the word “exalted” or “exaltation” except in the bible or church. It means to be noble, elevated or raised, as in rank or character. Jesus said that “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”. He said this in Luke 14:11, following the parable of the wedding feast in verses 7-10. It is a story of guests at a wedding banquet, and how people try to take the best seats. They are then humiliated when someone more distinguished arrives and the host asks them to move. Instead, Jesus said you should take the least important seat, and wait for the host to honor you by inviting you to move to better seats. The same concept is repeated in Matthew 23:12 and Luke 18:9-14.
This is NOT how people act, including Christians! More likely, we maneuver to be first, revealing our pride in action. Pride shows itself when we:
- Are impatient waiting in line (isn’t our time more important than everyone else’s?);
- Drive close behind someone on the road (they need to get out of our way so that we can drive faster!);
- Interrupt someone when they are speaking (after all, what we have to say is more important, isn’t it?);
- Wait for someone else to clean up the mess or wash the dishes;
- Maneuver to get a leadership position at church, instead of accepting some menial task
Instead, Jesus said we are to take every opportunity to humble ourselves, be a servant, be the one who let’s others go first, let others be recognized and take credit, and be the one who does the unpleasant, unnoticed, unimportant tasks. This goes against everything we are taught in this world about how “special” we are, that we should “stand up for ourselves”, and how we seek to be noticed and elevated by others. In fact, much of what is taught in this world (including taught in Christian families) is lacking this core teaching of Jesus. We are not comfortable being humble and putting others first, waiting for God to exalt us, to elevate us, in His due time.
This teaching goes against every fiber of our being, against our prideful, natural being. Oh sure, we feel good about ourselves when we do something nice for someone else, or occasionally put others first, but that is not what this teaching is about. Feeling good about ourselves when we occasionally put someone else’s needs first or do something nice for them is just more of “self”. Humility is looking away from “self” and becoming NOTHING so that God can fill you and be all in you (Colossians 1:27). Read that again, for it is no small matter. No one ever taught me this key spiritual truth with more than a passing mention of it. Don’t miss it!
Example of a Humble Christian
Is there someone in your life who exemplifies this teaching? Do not take the cursory, shallow view that the quiet woman who sits in the back of church and just smiles at everyone is necessarily humble. Rather, look for someone with humility like Jesus, which was active. Jesus was strong and courageous as well a humble. He was not afraid to speak up, do menial tasks, and love others actively.
As I look around the people in my life, including Christians, pastors, and family members, there is not one who is a role model for humility. When I look in the mirror, the example is just as disappointing. I have totally missed the mark on this, one of Jesus’ core teachings. My heart is heavy with repentance, but sees the light in the grace of God, knowing that what He calls me to, He equips me for (read Hebrews 13:20-21).
Besides Jesus, Mother Theresa is who I think of when I think of a humble person. She walked in humility along with strength and courage. She loved and served actively where most would consider it “beneath” them. Her heart must have been a great treasure to God. I can only imagine how God will exalt her in heaven!
Become Like a Little Child
Jesus said that ”…whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). He said this after the disciples had asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”. How different heaven must be from earth! On earth we are all striving to be noticed, to get ahead , and be “top dog”. It’s amazing that we don’t all suffocate under the weight of our pride!!
In heaven, will we all be tripping over ourselves to let others be first? That is what Jesus said. If this is totally foreign to us now, how will we manage in heaven? Oh, that we would abandon our own thoughts and feelings on this subject, let go of our pride, and embrace what Jesus said !!
Call to Action
In addition to the referenced scriptures, you must read the book “Humility” by Andrew Murray. It is a short book, only 54 pages, but power-packed with wisdom and scriptural references. It is not an easy read, for two reasons. First, it was originally published in 1895, so the language is a bit archaic at times, but do not let this dissuade you from reading it, please. The second reason it was not an easy read for me was that the content “cut (me) to the heart”, like the people in Acts 2:37 when Peter preached the Gospel for the very first time. Other than the Bible, I have never read anything that so convicted me of my need to repent of pride and embrace God’s way. I am truly grateful for God leading me to this, as He will certainly lead all who truly seek His will (read Psalm 139:23-24, Exodus 15:13).