“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
The New Webster’s Expanded Dictionary defines “humble” as: of a low, mean, or unpretending character; lowly; modest; meek. To make humble; to abase; to lower. And “humility” is defined as: humbleness of mind; modesty; sense of insignificance.
I would personally define humility as the act of setting aside your high status or position to identify with or to serve someone of lower status or position; the act of giving up what may be rightfully yours so that another might benefit. Humility is being willing to get your best clothes dirty without thought of the cost, and doing it for the benefit of others. Humility means considering others better than you.
Jesus showed humility when he washed the disciples feet and when he died on a Roman cross. He did it for our benefit. Even more so, he did it while we were still his enemies. He willingly made himself insignificant so that his acts would give us significance.
We live in a world where “I” and “me” are the most important words in our vocabulary; a world where we ruthlessly strive for what we want, even at the cost of another’s well being. Our society has become increasingly ambitious in the fulfilling of the great “American Dream”. A dream that is questionable at best. A dream that is exclusive.
But, thankfully, humility is not dead. It can be seen:
·In a lady who gives up her place in line at the grocery store to another shopper whose cart is full to overflowing.
·In a hungry child who surrenders the last piece of bread to someone else, without complaint.
·In an employee who rejoices with his coworker who’s just received the promotion that he himself was hoping for.
·In a wife who forgives her husband’s cruel words.
·In a well-to-do church member who offers his seat to a shabbily dressed visitor who’s decided to give God a chance for the first time in his life.
·In a hostess who gives a poor family the best table in the restaurant.
·In a woman or man who decides to eat their words instead of reacting to a bad-mannered, offensive person.
·In a Christian who decides to love his enemy instead of despising him.
·In a believer who is quick to confess his own weaknesses before pointing out the sins of others.
According to James 4 verse 6, God “resists the proud and gives grace to the humble”. Self-righteousness, the belief that one is better than another person, closes the door to God’s ability to change our hearts and to make us more like Christ. A self-righteous Christian is not a spiritual person; he is neither wise nor loving.
A.W. Tozer states that “the meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto.”
Understanding our lowly position as sinners makes grace seem so much larger. If we could know and understand who we really are, our perspective on others would change. “They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud.” (John Flavel)
True humility never announces itself. It is like a gentle breeze that carries just the slightest and sweetest scent of a rose and passes through our senses leaving us both soothed and refreshed. It is a way of life born out of an intimate relationship with a God who humbled himself and became a servant. It is an expression of agape love whose pure intention is to increase the comfort, joy and success of others. Humility doesn’t keep count of his good deeds, but lives each day knowing that without God’s amazing grace life would be futile and empty.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14 (NIV)
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 (NIV)