Humility is not a virtue in our world. Power, success, prestige, ‘leadership’, influence … these are virtues in our world. According to the biblical writers, however, humility is something to be sought after. It is a foundational posture that people take before their creator. It is the ‘grateful and spontaneous awareness that life is a gift, and it is manifested as an ungrudging and unhypocritical acknowledgement of absolute dependency upon God.” (Tyndale Bible Dictionary)
That’s against the American way. Independency is the virtue in the American man, not dependency. To most in our world, an acknowledgement of one’s own inadequacies is a sign of weakness, and communicating need to anyone is often interpreted as failure.
Jesus saw pride as detestable. He taught that in order to save your life, you have to lose it (Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25). He taught that those ‘poor in spirit’ would be the very ones to rule over others in the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3). When his disciples got into an arguement about who would be the greatest, Jesus arose and proceeded to take on the job of the lowliest slave in the household, and washed his disciples feet (John 13). He then explained to them that the ‘rulers of the Gentiles lord it over their followers, excercising their power, but it wasn’t to be so amongst them. Instead, the greatest among them would be the one who serves…
To be clear, there is a kind of false humility which presumes lowliness but in actuality is a narcissistic form of self-pity. That’s not humility. Its pride. it prevents people from standing up for things when they should, and fighting for things when they should, and living out of the confidence that comes from God. True humility isn’t thinking more highly of oneself or more lowly of oneself: its not thinking of oneself at all.
Its what both frustrates and fascinates the world about Tim Tebow… his apparent unconcern for himself, and focus on others. USA Today this morning published an article in which Tebow, commenting about being in the international spotlight: “I meet with my pastor frequently to help me stay humble when its going good and to stay confident when its going bad. Athletic ability can be taken away like that. It can all end in a heartbeat.” When asked about the pressures of public opinion, Tebow answered “I don’t have to live the roller-coaster other people live with my life…people try to have an effect. I try to stay centered in my faith.”
How much of life would be simpler if we weren’t so preoccupied (whether positively or negatively) with ourselves? How much freer would we be if we were released from the chains of comparison with other people and free to serve without having to get anything in return? Humility frees us…from ourselves… from others perceptions of us…from the comparisons we’re addicted to. It places us before God, as children cross-eyed before a Heavenly Father, in a posture that’s ready for glory.
Be humble. Serve. Stop thinking about yourself, and be caught up in the wonder of the gift of life that God has given you. Make this your prayer: “Lord, give me a humble heart,” and prepare yourself for what He will take you through in order to produce that in you.