Feeling Humble? (You Should) – Part 2

  1. Part 2 of 2

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6. NIV

Humility is a perspective and a posture I choose. It is reverence toward God (love for Him and responsiveness to Him in all things), a servant’s heart toward others (how I practically love them) and honesty with myself about myself (no excuses, no blame-shifting, I take responsibility for me). I “set myself up” in my heart attitude to receive and respond as I see the truth about all things in my life and world.

Because I have God’s perspective, I can say and mean humble things. What might these be? Here are a few:

  • “I might be wrong about this.” I acknowledge that my “right” about things might actually be less than all there is to a matter.
  • “I am wrong about this.” Ah, yes, I am WRONG. If this doesn’t come easily to your lips, then check your heart.
  • “I don’t know.” We say this because, frankly, we don’t. There is so much to know and I have so little of it.
  • “I need help.” We say this because in humility we know that we need others and that we are interdependent with others.
  • “I really appreciate you, thank you!” We say this because we genuinely recognize what others have given to us and what they have contributed to our lives.
  • “I have hurt you. Please forgive me.” Never IF I have, rather recognizing the truth that you have. Unless there is a “please forgive me” then we really are not walking in humility. Why? Because humility values relationships and receiving and giving forgiveness is how I protect them when there is a problem. “Please forgive me” makes me vulnerable to be sure, but it tells the truth about the pain I have brought; it makes grace for relational healing possible.
  • “Are we OK? Have I offended you?” Because maybe I have.
  • “God, what do you want to say to me about this matter?” I recognize my many limitations – this should be something we say with each breath.
  • “God, what do You want me to do about this matter?” Truth means action or we are not living in love.
  • “God, I need You!” While it might be stating the obvious, saying it matters.
  • “God tell me the truth about myself – what am I missing here?” Because I am missing things.
  • “My friend, tell me the truth about myself here, what am I missing?” Humility is vulnerable and open, not simply with God but with others.

Humility means receiving the truth and welcoming the truth about ourselves, no matter how it comes packaged. As a new Christian I learned a valuable lesson. Upon leaving a parking lot I noticed that a shortcut meant driving down a one-way street for a short distance. No biggy, I thought and off I went. About halfway along my criminal path, I met a van – driving the right way down my street. As I passed the van, the driver wagged his finger at me, “No, no, no!” Now I got angry. I thought, “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do!” Immediately God spoke to me, “Are you going down the street the wrong way?” What could I say? In grudging humility, I said the only truthful and humble thing I could think of, “Yes.” Then came the loving poke in my heart that I still remember, “The next time truth comes your way, no matter how it comes packaged (even a wagging finger), I want you to say ‘yes’ to it immediately.” The lesson stuck, though at times the “wagging finger” has been more painful to take than at other times – well at least painful to my pride.

Humility insists on knowing the truth about ourselves, it is the “love of the truth” that liberates us into God’s life for us. Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, the leader of the 18th c. Moravian community would on occasion receive letters critical of him. Once, he took a letter before the whole gathered community and read it to them, “My brothers, can you tell me please, what truth there is in these things that I must see?” That is the heart of humility – a deep desire to know the truth about myself, regardless of all else.

Humility is to be “honest with myself about myself.” It is our vulnerability to God, no matter our circumstances; it is our willingness to say, “God what can I learn here, how should I respond here, what do I need to see here?” To walk in humility means that grace can come our way no matter how difficult the situation or circumstances. Only our pride can keep God out. Humility opens our lives to grace; pride closes it.

Humility protects us from deception. The proud, in their selfishness are quickly deceived because they choose to embrace lies to protect themselves from truth. The humble choose truth and in doing so insulate themselves from lies.

Humility is to reverse the sin of Adam in our lives. Adam and Eve chose to be their own gods when they chose to eat from the tree. In effect, they chose to define reality for themselves, to decide what is right and wrong for themselves. Pride always does. When we walk in humility, we choose to let God actually be God and in our lives. It is not simply because He is wiser (though of course He is), but a recognition that He alone is God and that I am not. Humility recognizes that I need someone to rule over me and that I am not sufficient in myself.[1]

The very idea makes the proud bristle, “who are you to tell me what to think and to do?!” Our culture is very proud – the humanistic lie is that we humans need no one and especially not God. Our culture stands under the forbidden tree and eats gluttonously; enamored with self, self-indulgently, self-absorbed, self-deceived, oblivious to reality.

Copyright by Mike Huckins March 2017

[1] The very thought that one need to be ruled over is anathema to contemporary people. Yet, the wreckage of lives, relationships and our world might, you think, cause one to pause.

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