I watched a snippet of a video from a self-proclaimed prophet the other day. What strikes me as odd is the widespread declaration of blessing and breakthrough on whole groups of people, without the call to repentance or discipline. Or humility. And I wonder if blessing without discipline is really what the American culture needs to hear or embrace. It got me thinking about humility, and doing a little self reflection.
And then there’s the other thing that forces me to take a long glance into the state of my heart: life. Oh, how it has a way of showing me I’m not quite as far along as I thought I was–with the impending flying of the nest of my sons, frustration at work, and, a well placed conversation I had with missionaries in Seoul, South Korea, God was pressing me to reflect.
The basic assumption I made was that since I was quiet, not demanding the limelight, and as a mom, I was a seasoned pro at putting the needs of others before my own, I had the humility thing down with pinpointed accuracy (I get the irony). What I realized is that false humility can look a lot like the real thing–at least on the surface. But, God knows our hearts. And knew deep down, I was expecting a pat on the back, or had strings attached, or was nursing resentment for not being affirmed or thanked. There was closeted pride. Lots of nasty goo which I needed to repent of, ask God for Christlike humility.
And I am so not there, just in case you’re wondering.
But, I have a friend who is running the race with one of the most humblest hearts I know. Without even trying, she has shown me what God can do with a life lived, constantly asking for God–not personal desire– to guide. So far, this is what God has shown to me through her:
1: Humility is not simply the absence of pride.
It is not simply put in place to protect us from all the destructive nature of arrogance. It is a key which unlocks godly wisdom. When our focus is off self, and we enter every situation with the practice of depending on God’s strength, we can actually hear what He wants us to learn. When pride gets in the way, we hear less, we get distracted more. Humility is not just running around not being proud, it is an astute way of welcoming in the presence of God.
Which brings me to my second Aha moment.
2: The call to humble ourselves is an act of God’s love.
It’s not Him asserting His power over us. We follow the One Who longs to be in relationship with us, Who wants to speak to us, heal us, guide us. In fact, Jesus sets the pace. Philippians 2:5-10 shows how Christ didn’t regard equality with God something to come to earth and wield around to His advantage. He was humble about it, even when it cost Him His life. God goes to any length to be with us. And a humble heart simply “gets” that–less prideful walls to tear down, less excuses, fewer attempts to conquer battles on our own strength. When people humble themselves before a loving Father, in due time they experience love in ways the closeted proud don’t.
When it comes to authentic humility, I have a tendency to run out of gas. I made some great attempts, but largely regarded humility as not accessible for the masses. And, so I justified my closeted pride. I’m at least trying to be humble, God, that’s gotta count, right?
Nope. False humility is just that. False. It’s imitation cheese. Knockoff Christianity. Not really powerful at all if you’re basically calling bondage truth.
So, where do we go from here? The third insight I gleaned from stalking, or observing my friend is this:
3: Humility is a lifestyle.
It isn’t a thing to acquire like a blue ribbon at the end of the race–it weaves into your life as you run. Do you have problems? Kids? A longing deep in your heart? Pray for humility in every one of those situations. Not just the big things, bring it all. My friend literally prays for God to teach her how to be a friend to all the people in her life. She doesn’t charge in to anything. She allows God to guide her.
And, while it might seem obvious, ask God to teach you how to be humble, how to not swallow your pride, but hand it over to Him. Ask Him to reveal what you need to let go of, repent of. I was amazed at what God brought to light. Let it be a constant prayer request.
Humility is so much more than what religious people make it. Prideful hearts can even twist humility so it is about the self. Join me in the race to the bottom–to die to self, and to open your heart to the love that is lavished on the humble. God is faithful to meet you there.
Thank You for the clear example of humility Christ gives us. Reveal to us what we need to let go of. Teach us to rely on Your strength and not our own. Forgive me for thinking or acting like I’m better off than anyone. Help me be more like You.
In Jesus name,