How humble are you? Is there anyone or anything that you would consider to be below your dignity?
An absolute essential to a Kingdom Culture is humility and servanthood, they belong together, they are inseparable.
If we understand humility correctly it will help when it comes to servanthood, and yet humility doesn’t go down well in a fallen world! Why? The nature of a fallen world is rooted in prIde, the sovereignty of the individual, the assertion of the self, doing whatever it is “my way.” People today are proud of their pride, it’s celebrated in business, media the arts etc.. It’s opposite humility is usually seen as a weakness.
To understand humility we need to know what pride is
In order to understand humility, we must unmask pride and reveal it in all its ugliness. Pride, was the original sin, the cause of Lucifer’s downfall and the fall of mankind. In scripture, pride is seen working itself out negatively in the affairs of individuals, families, nations, and cultures – i.e. Nebuchadnezzar, King Uzziah, Israel.
So here’s something for starters – the list could be longer.
- Pride tends towards self-sufficiency, I can do it, I don’t need you or anyone else to help me, advise me, speak into my life.
- Pride says, I’m right, you are wrong, and is always out to win the argument.
- Pride puts others down in order to lift itself up.
- Pride finds it very difficult to listen to the ideas of others.
- Pride leads to false assumptions and jumps to wrong conclusions
- Pride finds it hard to congratulate others on their achievements.
- Pride sees more easily the faults in others and is blind to its own.
- Pride finds it very difficult to say I got it wrong, I’m sorry.
- Pride finds it difficult to serve unless there is some benefit to self.
- Pride is self-serving and sees certain tasks as below its dignity.
- Pride requires the subservience of others, not their equality, and seeks to control by intimidation, manipulation and domination.
- Pride leads to the spirit of complaint and fault-finding.
- Pride does not build relationships or community.
- Pride is arrogant, overbearing and aggressive.
- Pride in its preoccupation with the self gives rise to or intensifies our emotional problems.
Jonathan Edwards has this to say: “The first and worst cause of errors that abound in our day and age is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ….. Pride is the main handle by which he has hold of Christian persons and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces to clog and hinder a work of God.… Until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to heal all other diseases.”
Pride is deadly! I mean really deadly!
Martin Luther King described its deep-rooted and insidious nature and manifestation, “A man may be self-centred in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. His generosity may feed his ego and his piety pride.” And Thomas A. Tarrants, III from the C.S. Lewis Institute, marks out graphically the danger, “If your pride causes you to exalt yourself, you are painting a target on your back and inviting God to open fire. And he will.”
How should we respond?
1. We need to recognise it, see it as it really is, humble ourselves and repent of it – we don’t pray to be made humble, we are called to humble ourselves; pray to be humbled and you’ll be humiliated.
2. We must understand the importance of humility: Isaiah 66:2 says, “But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word,” and 1 Peter 5:5, “Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (see also James 4:6),
These are serious words, it would do us well to hear them. God works in opposition to the proud and it hinders the flow of God’s grace in our lives, but God loves and responds to humility, and it brings the release of his grace. Pride says I am sovereign and I want the glory; humility says, God you are sovereign and to you alone belongs the glory.
John Stott says, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend,” and the old church father John Chrysostom says of humility, “Humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue.”
So, without humility, we are getting nowhere. The proud sit in judgment on the word and justify themselves, but the humble listen and tremble at the word and desire and seek to do what’s right and in doing so God gives more grace and such humility provides the seedbed for all the other virtues.
Humility – what it’s not (we don’t want to fall into false humility – remember Uriah Heep?):
- It’s not about thinking badly about yourself/a worthless worm/poor self-image
- It’s not about trying to hide your accomplishments or pretend it wasn’t you – we need a right view of ourselves, gifts and abilities, recognising all as from God (Romans 12).
- It’s not being doormat, a walk-over, there to be used and abused.
- And it has nothing to do with being weak or indecisive.
The Answer – Look at Jesus.
The church at Philippi appears to have had a problem with pride hence Paul’s famous verses in chapter 2. And Paul’s solution? showing and pointing them to Jesus, to the mind of Christ. Such profound words, Jesus, who is very God, humbled himself, leaving all that he had with the Father in glory and takes on created flesh, just like ours – we should never forget that the God we serve has been from everlasting ‘the humble God,’ not an arrogant, strutting, power hungry tyrant of a God. Jesus revealed what God is truly like.
The prideful, arrogant man or woman has lost sight of Jesus, and needs to get to know him all over again.
True humility naturally leads to servanthood.
- Jesus came to serve – Jesus knew who he was, was sure of who he was, and he was able to serve. He came, “not to be served but to serve…” Mark 10:45
- He lived where we are, in our quarters, our neck of the woods.
- He taught and ministered to one and all without discrimination.
- He washed the disciples feet.
- He ultimately died in our place on a cruel Roman cross, something reserved only for the worst of criminals.
What a staggering example of humility and servanthood we have in Jesus. “This is our God the Servant King….”
To the humble person no-one and nothing is below their dignity, no job, no sphere of service.
Someone has made this statement, “Some never get started on their destiny because they cannot humble themselves to learn, grow, and change”, and to quote Bill Johnson, “False humility will keep us from our destiny. True humility will take us to it.”
True humility involves recognising who God is, what he has done and who he has made us to be. That all that we are, and have, and can do, is what we have received and that the glory belongs to God alone.
We as God’s holy ones, his family, a colony of heaven on earth are called to walk in humility and servanthood in our homes and in our church and carry it out into the world and so bring Heaven’s influence on earth.