Are you a humble person? Do you incorrectly imagine it means walking around looking downcast, obsequiously advertising to all, through demeanor and words, what an unworthy person you are? Or, do you recognize that humility primarily concerns our relationship with God–which then extends outward toward our relationships with others?
“…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
Humility at its heart is correctly appraising who we are. It is not denigrating ourselves or trying to convince ourselves that we aren’t as good as others. Neither is it refusing to accept a compliment graciously or otherwise acknowledging our genuine accomplishments. Humility, in fact, does not originate at all in our attitude toward ourself or others; it stems from within the context of our relationship with God, and as such, is an acknowledgement that before Him we truly do stand with NOTHING to offer.
We can boast of none of our accomplishments, because everything is “…of Him and through Him and to Him…to whom be glory forever.” (Romans 11:36) If you consider the things you are most proud of in life–your academic or professional achievements, your possessions or wealth, your power or fame, everything, in fact, that you have been able to do or acquire–it has all been only through the grace of God.
But, you may argue, I’M the one who got up early to go to school and stayed late at work, the one who sacrificed, who did everything. Yes, but it was the all-powerful Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer God who gave you a comprehending, intelligent mind to begin with! He is the one who created the circumstances for you to do what you did–who caused you to be born into the family you were born into, who gave you the financial and other resources and support to position you to be able to achieve your accomplishments! This is why pride is particularly grievous in His eyes.
When I look at another human being and boast–when I basically say, “Look at me–look how much I’ve accomplished, compared to this other person”–I offend God. I may remember my own sacrifices but He sees the whole picture–that without His positioning me into my circumstances I would have been able to accomplish none of it. Every family is different. Not just in terms of finances, but in terms of what mom and dad believe, what they expect of us, how they discipline us, their strengths and their shortcomings–whether we even have both a mom and dad. All of this contributes in molding and shaping us into who we will eventually become. This, of course, does not negate our personal contributions, but it makes it wrong of me to assume that another person, had they been born into my exact circumstances, would not have done as well–perhaps even better–than I.
So, at its most basic level, humility is correctly recognizing our standing before Him. It is an honest acknowledgement before our Creator God that we have NOTHING to offer Him, and that apart from “…Christ in…[me] the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27 NIV), I myself am completely unrighteous and my condition bleak:
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.” (Isaiah 64:6-7 NIV)
Yet, because of the finished work of Jesus, in Him everything changes!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:3-7 NIV)
Without Jesus, regardless of how much we have, we have nothing. With Him, regardless of how little we have, we have everything!
So, are you a humble person? Can you honestly say with the Apostle Paul, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 NIV)? If so, you have been clothed with the humility of Christ!
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 NIV) Amen!