One of my first lessons in humility and putting others first came from my very own mother. I’m sure most of us can relate to our moms being the first in our lives to not only teach us many of life’s lessons, but to also put them into practice. It’s one thing to teach our kids how to treat others, but it’s another thing for us to model it. Children remember more of what we’ve done than what we’ve said.
One incident that stands out in my mind is when I was a teenager. My mom and I were about to walk into a grocery store. A truck, with an older woman, was parked near the entrance of the store where we were about to pass. As we walked beside the truck, we noticed the woman inside had her door open. Looking over, we noticed she was covered with her own throw up. I remember being completely disgusted with the site and thought I might throw up as well, if I didn’t get away. My mom asked her if she needed any help. The woman responded that she was ok and that her husband was in the store buying some medicine for her. My mom proceeded into the store and brought out some wet paper towels from the bathroom. She then began to clean the woman up. At the time, I remember being more grossed out that my mom could do that than anything. Although, now I look back and realize she was looking out for someone. She could easily just have walked by and pretended not to see her. The woman wasn’t even asking for any help. Without realizing it, my mom taught me a valuable lesson that day.
It’s so easy to go through life with our own interests in mind, turning a blind eye to others. I know because I have a tendency to be just like that. No one wants to be bothered with someone else’s problems, especially when it inconveniences us. We’ve got enough problems in our own lives to worry about. At least this is how I used to think. That is, until I came across a scripture in Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Putting another before ourselves, with a pure heart, can only be done when we are walking in true humility. The antonym for humility is pride. Pride is a “false” state of mind in which a person thinks of himself superior to another. Anytime we look at someone different from ourselves and have a feeling that we’re more important, we have devalued them in our hearts. This scripture is something I have to purposely put into practice if I want it to become a part of who I am. Have you noticed that scriptures that refer to how we are to treat others, at all times, contradicts our very nature? I suppose that’s why they are emphasized so strongly in the Bible.
How do we put this into practice anyway? V.4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. We’re not supposed to completely abandon our own needs, but we are to take into consideration the needs of those in our sphere of influence. This is a lesson in selflessness. You can easily measure your degree of selflessness the next time someone asks for your help or you see an unmet need. It’s easy to do something for others when it’s someone important or when we’ll get a reward for it. However, when nothing will be said and no reward given, and yet we still step up to the plate, that is true humility.
There is a major difference between the way this world is and the way Heaven is. They both run on two completely different systems. Our goal is to model Heaven’s system, while on earth. As Christians, we ultimately belong to God’s kingdom in Heaven. Although we are temporarily on the earth, we are to represent Heaven’s Kingdom in our lives here. Peter even refers to us as aliens and strangers in this world. 1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Jesus modeled Heaven’s system perfectly. He knew what Heaven was like because Heaven’s system is ran by his Father. V.6 says of Jesus: Who, being in every nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped v.7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…Although Jesus was the closest thing to God, he didn’t flaunt it. He knew that being “somebody” on earth meant nothing in Heaven. But being a “no body” on earth meant much in heaven. Jesus came to the earth to serve, not to be served. Is a servant above his master? We too have been called to serve others.
Look at the people in your life and learn from their examples of humility. There is a lot of false humility out there. But you will know the pureness of it when something is done and there comes no reward, no recognition and no applause. Seeking out recognition for our good deeds, is not true humility. Remember, someone else is always watching our examples. How do we treat others, when we “think” no one is watching?