I am totally borrowing my title from John Crist. 😉
I want to begin this post with a disclaimer: Please read this slowly and read it for yourself. We tend to assign things like this to other people and can miss what God wants to say to us. There are a lot of Scriptures today too. Please read them. They are more important than what I have to say.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
― C.S. Lewis
Humility isn’t a sexy topic. We live in a day and age where we post for likes, compete for position, get close to “important” people so that we can use their influence, etc. Pride is the way of life for many, but this is not a new problem.
The very first sin was rooted in pride. Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because she believed the lie that God was holding out on her. Pride.
Cain murdered his brother because he was jealous of him. Pride.
Jacob stole his brother’s blessing because he wanted a larger inheritance. Pride.
Joseph’s brothers tried to get rid of him because they were jealous of him. Pride.
Saul was hellbent on killing David because he was jealous of his favor. Pride.
“It’s common knowledge that ‘God goes against the willful proud;
God gives grace to the willing humble,’” (James 4:6).
I heard a sermon recently that listed off these attributes of humility. I played the sermon over and over. This list has been messing me up. Again, please read through this slowly. It’s like a “You Know You’re Humble When”… list.
Here are the 14 Attributes of Humility by Kris Vallotton:
- You remain teachable.
- You can be corrected, directed, and someone can speak into you without feeling the need to defend yourself.
- You rejoice when others are celebrated.
- You have a thankful attitude.
- No job is too small for you.
- You don’t always have to be right (even when you are).
- You naturally seek the advice of others.
- You actually pray. You don’t just talk about praying.
- You freely admit your flaws, mistakes, and failures.
- You live to help others succeed.
- You aren’t easily offended.
- You refuse to live with a sense of entitlement. You don’t think anyone owes you something.
- You are quick to forgive and don’t hold grudges.
- You are confident in who you are and content with who you aren’t.
David and Saul are a good case study on pride and humility. The very anointing of David as the future king of Israel shows the plan God had through David’s humility. God saw that Saul’s heart had grown prideful so he sent Samuel to anoint a new king. This time, God wanted a king who would honor Him and obey Him. Samuel went to the house of Jesse and seven of the brothers lined up to see if they were the one. Samuel asked the Lord about each boy and none were chosen. David was not even on his father’s radar as a potential future king and yet, he was the one God chose. Not the tall and handsome son, not the skilled and qualified son – but the one who was in the field tending the sheep. The one who had a heart after God. The son full of humility. If you want to study the lives of David and Saul further, I highly recommend this book.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,’” (1 Sam 16:7 NLT).
JM and I got to attend a pastor’s conference this week. We were shocked by what we experienced. At other pastors’ conferences that we have been to, there’s an undercurrent of competition. Who has the best clothes, shoes, church size, etc? It’s really not a fun thing to be around. I was intimidated going into this conference and even went and bought new clothes for it. Funny side note… I spent a while getting ready for the first day. I put on my trendy new pants and curled my hair all nice. We got to the hotel door to leave and it was POURING rain. Like the kind of rain where the wind flips your umbrella inside out. Yep. That was us. SOAKING wet. Frizzy hair. Bare feet until we went to buy new shoes at lunch.
We were so pleasantly surprised by the heart-beat of the organization. People were wearing all different kinds of clothes and it didn’t matter. The leaders were there to shepherd the shepherds and the speakers were brutally honest. I cried the whole time as they talked openly about their failures. They spoke about keeping yourself (and your family) emotionally healthy and keeping the first things first. There was a commitment to walking together, fighting in the Spirit FOR each other, and giving wisdom away. I mean, it was just beautiful! The pastors who led the conference have massive churches with multiple campuses, but none of them are the most dynamic preachers. They are humble and committed to God. I think that’s the key. People don’t want to look at their leaders and see unattainable perfection. They just want to know that their leaders can take them further in their walk with Christ then they can get by themselves, and that they care about them. It really is simple.
When we look at Jesus’ life, He had all the reasons in the world to live larger than life and be boastful. He was/is God, was at the creation of the world, and sits right next to the Father. Yet, He chose to lay down royalty and come to earth as an infant. He chose to be born in less than noble circumstances, to associate Himself with less than noble individuals, to die a less than noble death. Everything He did was marked with humility. There’s not a better picture of Jesus’ humility to me than this passage:
“Jesus knew that the Father had put Him in complete charge of everything, that He came from God and was on His way back to God. So, He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His apron,” (John 13:3-6 MSG emphasis added).
It is so interesting to me that it says because Jesus knew He was in charge of everything, He got on the ground to wash His disciples’ feet. Doesn’t that seem backwards from what we would do? He even washed Judas’ feet. Think about that for a second… I don’t know if you have ever had someone wash your feet. My hubby surprised me in the middle of our wedding by washing my feet. He got down on the floor in front of everyone and washed my feet saying that he was honored to serve me. The disciples’ feet wouldn’t have been freshly pedicured like mine were! They walked everywhere, so their feet were calloused and dirty. Foot washing was reserved for the lowest of servants because it was such a nasty job. And here’s Jesus, wiping off the dirt from Judas’ feet. Knowing full well that he was about to betray Him.
As Christians, our goal is not to live as much like the world as we can. The world is concerned with their position. They one-up each other and make their own way. That is not what God has for us. We are set apart. Jesus is our standard. We are called to kill our flesh, lay down our agendas, surrender our wills, and trust that as we follow Christ, He makes a way for us.
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
“Though He was God,
He did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, He gave up His divine privileges;
He took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When He appeared in human form,
He humbled Himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor
and gave Him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil 2:1-11 emphasis added).
If Jesus Christ humbled Himself in obedience to God, then you and I have much to learn about humility. I made us homework, because that’s what I do. 😉 Please sit and take some time with the Lord to truly check your heart. I am going to walk through it too. God has so much for us. We are His favorites. He has favor and blessings to pour out on us, but His hands get tied when we choose to walk in pride. The consequences of pride are serious.
“First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall,” (Proverbs 16:18 MSG).
Let’s commit ourselves to staying humble before God and letting Him take care of the rest.