TO CHEW ON: "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11
Humility — why do we find it so hard to live this most attractive of character traits? Perhaps because it is so counter-intuitive? How unnatural does it feel to keep quiet about a triumph, a win or achievement, a raise, a compliment? Yet even people who don't acknowledge any spiritual motivation for their actions realize the value of humility and feel disappointment at their own lack of it. Poet and teacher Mary Kinzie, speaking of the trend in the literary world to promote oneself writes:
“This was a world in which there was a constant encouragement to promote oneself, to mention every little mention of oneself. To be your own entrepreneur. Deadly to art. I tried not to play, but did just a little – enough so that I neither made a good showing among them nor kept my heart pure.” (Mary Kinzie, quoted in an article that is no longer on line)
Jesus, on the other hand, was a great fan of humility. He implied that humility would eventually be the lot of everyone by one means or another, and the person who sought to avoid humility by exalting himself would be forcibly humbled.
I can think of several reasons why living a life of humility is the better option:
1. It ensures that we do things with the right motives — not for self-glory but for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
2. It ensures that jobs or roles that have no glory attached to them get done or filled (1 Corinthians 12:20-25).
3. Living by the humble ideal helps us set our sites on long-range and lasting heavenly rewards versus immediate and fleeting praise (Matthew 6:1-4).
But I find that knowing these things doesn't make it any easier to be humble.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to cultivate true humility. Amen.
MORE: Traits of the self-life
I have taped in one of my Bibles a small but very convicting tract called "Traits of the Self-Life." It consists of a list of those things that characterize our carnal selves. As I read through the items, I am struck by how many involve pride (the opposite of humility). I will quote the first few paragraphs:
"The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself as if in the immediate presence of God.
Are you ever conscious of:
A secret spirit of pride — an exalted feeling, in view of your success or position; because of your good training and appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important independent spirit. Stiffness and preciseness?
Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
Self-will; a stubborn unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expressions; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?...
[...]These are some of the traits which generally indicate a carnal heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God, until you see the groundwork thereof. The Holy Ghost will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your "self-life" to the death. Do not patch over but go to the bottom. It will pay." (Published by Western Tract Mission.
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.