This is the last and final day of A Message for the Messenger’s Online Bible Conference! While I’ve enjoyed doing this, and there have been some excellent posts from my guest posters (here, here, here, here & here), I am going to finish this with a post on humility, written by myself. Thank you all for participating in A Message for the Messenger’s Online Bible Conference and for contributing to make it a great turnout. And special thanks to my guest posters (view profiles here, here, and here).
How often do we hear people tell us to be humble or show humility? And how often do we actually know what they are talking about?
Humility seems to be something that Jesus stressed a lot. So why aren’t people being more humble?
Look at the two most important commandments to fulfill that Jesus gives to the Pharisees when they tried to trap Him: “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt. 22:37-40).” Love your neighbor as yourself. The reason this is important is because our natural fleshly desire is to put us first, to satisfy our desires first, and to think of our needs as more crucial than someone else’s. If you love someone as much as yourself, you will want to put them first, satisfy their desires first, and you will finally think of their needs as more crucial than yours. But how do you achieve this level of humility? It’s not something that you can instantly start doing. No, this is a disciplined task. It requires you to purpose to do it, and then to have the endurance and perseverance to keep at it. It is something where you have to know why you’re doing it. Why do you have to know? If you are doing something for no reason and no purpose, you will fail shortly after you’ve begun.
So, during this post, I want to discuss three things: What humility is, why humility is important, and how you get humility.
What is Humility?
In my mind, humility is the act of belittling yourself (in an appropriate and reasonably proportioned way) so that you are not looked upon as being overly important or powerful wrongly. But a part of being a humble Christian is using humility to our advantage. When we are truly humble and are not drawing attention to ourselves, what should we be drawing attention to? God! But read this: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Matt. 6:5-8).” Do not draw attention to God like a pagan would or a hypocrite would; draw attention to Him quietly and secretly. This may seem like an oxymoron, but people notice when you’re not with the rest of the crowd. I think this is what we are supposed to be doing as Christians. We are supposed to be the light in the world that other people can look at and want to like them and be with them.
Humility serves as yet another tool for Christians. By focusing attention away from them and onto Christ, it gives us the chance to help people without drawing all sorts of uncared-for attention. We can help people by praying, working, or providing. This kind of help can benefit in all sorts of unpredictable ways, not forgetting that God will be pleased by our actions.
Why is Humility Important?
Humility is primarily important because God instructs us to be. We don’t need all the attention that the world says we do. What do we need then? 1.) God, 2.) a church in which we can grow and learn, 3.) friends or relatives that can encourage and motivate us in our Christian walk. These are the three primary things that we need, besides the obvious physical needs.
But, like in my case, if people give you an adequate amount of attention, why would you want to practice and exercise humility? There are two reasons that come to mind: 1.) No one starts off center-stage and famous. It starts with one song, discovery, publication, etc. for someone to become famous. Having well-exercised humility is handy to have in a situation such as those, so that you are not carried away by sudden fame and popularity. 2.) If you have no plans or reasons to become famous soon (such as myself), a practice of humility is good when receiving everyday compliments. These kinds of compliments (e.g. “nice tie”, “you did really well in that play”, “I like your shoes”, etc.) give you the perfect opportunity to brag or show off. It is easy to be ostentatious when you receive such a compliment as the above. You can easily come up with reasons why they are right (e.g. “Yes, it’s the best brand”, “Well, you know, I did take theatre for four years”, “these shoes are three-hundred dollars!”, etc.)
I can remember times that I’ve bragged, and then times that I’ve corrected a false compliment. One time someone said that they liked my shoes, and asked how much they cost. Truthfully, I told them that they originally cost $400. They were stunned. Smiling, I proceeded to tell them that I bought them for $14 from a resale shop. This is an example on how you can “correct” praise. They were surprised at the cost of my shoes, but it was unworthy surprise and praise. It is nice to have humility in times like that. Unfortunately, I do not practice humility very often. I do need to exercise it more, though.
How do you get Humility?
Probably the best way is to practice exercising it around everyday compliments. That way if you are ever in an overwhelming situation in which you are receiving incomprehensible amounts of praise, you can easily use your humble reflexes and turn their praise around if it’s false, and turn it to God if it’s not. There is an issue here that might need to be addressed, but I will save that for another time.
A Final Note
Humility isn’t just correcting and deflecting praise; it is definitely also returning praise, and putting others first. This act makes you become inferior so-to-speak, and holds the other person higher than yourself. I struggle with this, and have the need to exercise humility much more. But when you’re in line, let the person before you go ahead. Show acts of kindness and, in doing so, you will mirror the image of Christ in your actions.