Do you wish to rise?
Begin by descending.
You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds?
Lay first the foundation of humility.
Okay, so before I begin writing, I have a confession to make. So here goes: This month’s “Word of the Month” is more like a word of the week. I had this vague idea for my Idea of the Month floating around my head but somehow the dots wouldn’t quite connect; maybe because my idea basically consisted of a Bible character who’s never mentioned in the Bible. But anyway by mid-November or so, I was beginning to realize that ranting about the woes of a possibly non-existent person wasn’t gonna happen. (Go figure!) Thankfully, one of my friends saved the day by suggesting a topic. So with only around a week to think about the word Humility, I feel inadequate to tackle this topic. But I shall give it my best shot. 🙂 Thanks for listening to this rather long-winded explanation. Now to the topic at hand…
Humility. Humble. Close your eyes for a moment and think of a humble person. Maybe it’s someone you know; maybe it’s a vague persona that you aspire to be.
So… if Merriam-Webster hired you to put up a picture beside the word humility in their dictionary, what would you come up with? Though the specifics vary from person to person, we all agree on the general idea of humility. In fact, I asked a whole whack of people what a humble person looked like to them. Here’s a list of some of the answers I received (some responses combined because of their similarity):
- A humble person is a nice person
- A humble person is happy with who he is
- A humble person doesn’t try to control other people or their responses
- A humble person doesn’t feel the need to boast
- A humble person is sincerely, truly interested in the other person, asking about his struggles, life, etc. in a caring, not curious manner.
- A humble person will keep confidences and be trustworthy.
- A humble person always finds a multitude of blessings in his life to be thankful for even in drearest circumstances.
- A humble person will not fill the next persons ears with only “I, me, n myself” and repeatedly and incessantly talk of his his own doings and stuff
- A humble person treats his subordinate as his equal
- A humble person doesn’t pick fights over trivial matters
- A humble person doesn’t think only of himself
- A humble person isn’t the loudest in the crowd
- A humble person is content and submissive
- A humble person is the master of his power and authority
- A humble person accepts correction from others well
- A humble person rejoices when others’ succeed (even when he doesn’t)
- A humble person is ready to serve others
- A humble person identifies with people and does all within his power to help them
- A humble person tries to see the best in others
- A humble person shows a modest estimate of his own importance
- A humble person doesn’t create a scene when falsely accused
- A humble person doesn’t desire more than his share
- A humble person isn’t too proud to love the “unlovable”
- A humble person is friendly and thinks of others
- A humble person doesn’t wallow in self-pity
- A humble person respects God and people
- A humble person is quick to see when someone is in need or discouraged
- A humble person lets others go first
- A humble person doesn’t seek attention
- A humble person accepts things even when they aren’t/ don’t seem fair
Your responses overwhelmed me; thanks again. Many of them were very insightful and portrayed a humble person in a new way for me. I couldn’t have come up with an extensive list like this on my own :).
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less. -C.S. Lewis
Back to our Merriam-Webster assignment… What picture would you choose to illustrate humility? Nothing and no one we know comes close to perfectly complying with all the above (and more!)at all times.
Unless we know Jesus.
Unless we truly know His character. In fact, unless we know Him, we don’t even have the slightest inkling of an idea about humility. He is, after all, the quintessence of humility.
The first thing that hit me when I began studying/meditating on humility was the depth of the word. I realized that I’ve often severely downsized it. Most of my life, I’ve limited humility to my relationships with people around me. As long as I don’t think I’m better than others, I’m humble, right? I still think that’s a huge part of humility. However, after listening a message on the topic, I began to see that the attitude of not being better than others is more of a by-product of humility. Humility becomes much more real if we view it as being primarily about our relationship with God.
“Humility, you see, is the direct result of worship. So we can choose to humble ourselves by choosing to be alone (increasingly alone) with Him.” -Russel Kelfer
I love that quote! If we spend time in the presence of our beautiful and loving and omnipotent God, pride dissipates. You simply can’t walk away from worshipping Jesus and keep any sense of pride in your own little ‘accomplishments’. I’ve read Job 38 several times this week. Every time I read those verses, God blesses me with a new sense of wonder at His majesty and beauty. This chapter speaks of God as the Creator. In it, God tells us how he “laid the foundations of the earth… as the morning stars sang together”, “clothed the sea with clouds”, “laid out a path for the lightning”, “directs the movement of the stars”, and “tilts the jars of heaven when the parched ground is dry.” It’s an awe-inspiring passage that I’ll keep going back to. And it just describes one part of the beautiful and complex character of God. Other chapters in the Bible show us other aspects of Him.
You know the quote that says, “You become like the ones you’re with”. We mostly use this little proverb in relation to the people we hang out with. But it’s also true about our relationship with God. If we desire humility in our lives, we need to spend time with the paragon of humbleness- Jesus. Take time to worship Him. Talk to him under the light of a thousand stars. Whisper to him as you catch an intricate snowflake on your finger. Sing to him as you drive crazy mountain roads or prairie highways that melt into the distant horizon. Be perfectly still as you gaze at a deepening sunset or at the changing pulses of the northern lights. Be content to just be with God. And I promise, you won’t strut away from a real experience like that. Spending time with Jesus allows His character to infiltrate yours. That is, after all, the only way to become more like Him- in humility and all other virtues. And in the end, if my relationship with God is how it’s supposed to be, then my attitude towards other people is likely on the right track as well.
And now, I have a question for you. See, all my life I’ve heard that “once you think you’re humble, you’re not” and “humility is a virtue that you don’t know if you have it” and stuff like that. So what do you think? Can a Christian ever realize that he/she has grown more humble or is that pride?
P.S. Thanks for all your feedback from previous posts… both online comments and private texts etc. I appreciate it more than you know.:) Have a blessed Christmastime!