If I was only given ten words to sum up the Christian life, one of the words I would choose is humility. Being humble is such a massive part of what it means to walk the Christian walk. As I began to study Psalm 18, one verse about humility really sparked a deep look into what humility means and why I believe it’s so massively important.
In this David penned Psalm, the author is super thankful because God has rescued him from his enemies. There’s something he touches upon here that really just speaks to one of the core concepts of our lives as Christians.
Psalm 18:27 For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.
I’m taking a class at my church called Spiritual Authority. It’s something that’s required if you want to serve in the church, but it’s also just a great class that teaches a lot about biblical based living. And I kid you not, the answer to about 56% of the questions in that class is HUMILITY. I think I’m just going to start shouting it out halfway through every question, because chances are I’ll be right.
“What’s required for…” “HUMILITY!”
Humility runs exactly opposite to what we’ve been taught for our entire lives, at least here in America. This is a selfish country, and we are it’s selfish inhabitants. We glorify ourselves. Ourselves are awesome and important and amazing and ourselves are our priority. I gotta get my money and get my respect, amirite?
SO MUCH of our walk with Christ can be summed up in the word humility. The problem is, we’re hard wired the opposite direction. Even when we do good things, we’re programmed to jump up and down and receive praise for them. Sure, I’ll do a good deed, but I want the eternal gratitude of the person I did it for, an award from the mayor, my picture in the paper, and some sort of financial compensation would be nice too. And then I’ll frame the award from the mayor and the picture from the paper and hang them up in my house so that everyone who ever visits will know about that good deed I did that one time.
Now I know I’m being a little over dramatic here, but I’m trying to make a point. I don’t think most of us grasp humility in it’s fullness. Humility is defined as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance”. That’s like the opposite of what we’ve been programmed to seek our entire lives. We’re supposed to have lofty, incredible notions of our own importance, aren’t we? After all, aren’t I the man? Isn’t my life supposed to be about building myself up, gathering a pile of wealth and credentials and possessions that I can sit upon like a throne?
The bible says otherwise time and time again.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
Mark 9:35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Psalm 149:4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Being humble should be at the center of all we do and of all we are. And look, I get that it’s difficult. I’ve struggled with this myself, because in some ways it can feel like it runs counter-intuitive to other biblical teachings. I am a mighty man of God, highly favored by the God of all creation… and yet I am a lowly servant. For me, I struggled with this for a long time. I think the verse that really helps clear it up for me is the 1 Peter verse I shared above. Humble yourself, live a humble life, putting others before yourself, and leave it up to God to exalt you.
Here’s what it comes down to for me. What matters? What this world thinks of me, or what God thinks of me? What matters? What I think of myself, or what God thinks of me? Because to me this is the difference between selfishness versus humility. Selfishness says that it matters most what I think of me and what others think of me. Humility says that it matters most what God thinks of me. And God tells me to live humble. He tells me to make it an absolute cornerstone of my existence. Jesus exhibited it during his time on earth, always lowering himself and helping and serving others. He washed people’s feet, he made them meals, he had the heart of a true humble servant. That’s the example Jesus set for us, and that’s the way we should be living our own lives.
My struggle with humility is probably the same as yours. I want to be recognized. I want to feel loved and appreciated. The real trick is learning that you’ll be recognized, loved, and appreciated by the right person when you’re truly living humble. God sees it, and He recognizes it, and He loves you, and He appreciates you, and He’s proud of you. And honestly, what could matter more than that?
In that story I told above, about seeking acknowledgment for a good deed, I want to point out that getting recognized for doing good isn’t wrong. What’s wrong is having that recognition be your motivation for doing good. I think you’ll find that when you start moving in humility and doing good from a true humble heart, you will be recognized and appreciated by others. God knows we love encouragement, and often times He sees to it that the truly humble do receive encouragement and recognition from other people. The key is staying humble when you get that recognition, and maintaining that spirit of humility.
The word humility is just heavy on my heart right now. We have to work towards it, it’s imperative. It’s one of those things that can drive us one way or the other, either into a fruitful and prosperous life or into a constant battle between flesh and spirit. We need to leave behind the selfish ideas we’ve had drilled into us about what it means to be recognized and appreciated, and we need to embrace the Godly aspect of humility. Leave the recognition and appreciation up to God, and lower yourself. Climb down off the throne of wealth and possessions and follow the servant example set by Jesus. God honors the humble, and I promise you, the humble will have their rewards. The bible says it again and again.
CLOSING AND PRAYER
For our prayer today, let’s just pray for a true spirit of humility. Ask God to help establish a humble heart within us, and to help keep us humble in times when our selfish nature is clawing to take back over.
As always, thank you to everyone who reads this blog. It’s been such a major thing that’s helped deepen my studies of the Bible, and it’s been my great joy to share my studies with all of you out there. I love all of you guys, and as you’ve learned by now, I also love reminding you that you’re also loved by the great God of all creation. God, THE GOD, love us, you guys. It’s incredible, isn’t it?
Love you guys, and I’ll be back on Thursday with more Psalms!