Humility Comes Before Honor

Ephesians 4:2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  

First of all, humility does not indicate weakness or groveling.  It actually is strength and confidence without arrogance, whereas pride is confidence with arrogance.  Humility is not just doing something kind for someone, it’s a total submission to God’s will and love.  It’s allowing God to transform your heart.

Without humility you will not be able to do God’s will.  This is one of the most important, but more difficult virtues to develop due to our human nature.  It is essential for all Christians and for all humanity if we are to live in peace, harmony and love. Humility is the remedy for pride and arrogance.   Pride is the enemy of love, peace and justice.   Throughout Christ’s time on this earth, humility was a major focus of His teaching, which is a clue for us to pay close attention to.

Have you ever been to a place that was so magnificent, like the Grand Canyon, the ocean, witnessed a beautiful sunset, the northern lights or a baby being born, where you felt so small and what/whoever created it was so large?  In that moment you were in awe and just thankful to be a part of it and alive.  You had nothing do with creating it, but were grateful for it, became one with it, soaking in it with a sense of peace/love and knew right then there must be a God.  That’s humility.  I have experienced that on many occasions, but sadly, I have not been able to hold onto it.  It often quickly eluded me and self-centeredness found its way back into my heart.

In my journey for spiritual transformation, I focused on developing more humility.  In my last blog I talked about gratitude, which I believe is a companion virtue to humility.  Gratitude helps teach us humility because giving thanks allows us to realize what we have and are able to do comes through us, not from us.  Humility isn’t something that can be willed or forced into existence.  It’s a slow process of dying to self, shedding pride, arrogance, self-will and self-importance.

I see all the gifts of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) – interconnected with humility.  You can’t posses the gifts of the Spirit without first humbling yourself.  It is the foundation on which these gifts are established.

I thought I was a fairly humble person most of my life because I didn’t boast about myself.  As I have stated in my previous blogs, I suffered from low grade depression for many years.  My thoughts were mostly centered on myself in some way, usually in a negative light, but also sometimes arrogantly.  At times I over compensated to make myself feel better about myself.  The end product – arrogance – not pretty.

One night, a few years back,  I was struggling to sleep, tossing and turning till the early morning hours. I tried praying, but that didn’t help.  I finally cried out to God what was the deal.   In my spirit I heard God say, “Anna, you don’t know humility.”

Well that was the last thing I would have thought about myself (little prideful, huh?).  I never really thought of myself as prideful or arrogant because I didn’t think much of myself.  I didn’t usually brag or boast or try to control others.  In fact, I often put the needs of others ahead of mine.  So the idea of not knowing humility didn’t occur to me.  But when I stopped to think about what humility was it became clear.  Looking back, my motives for putting others first weren’t always pure – sometimes it was about people approval.  Also, I would either say negative things about myself or negate things I had done well.  I was under the erroneous belief that if I didn’t acknowledge my God-given talents and abilities I was being humble.  So instead I put myself down in some way.  I was wrong.  Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less – C.S Lewis.

At that time I was consumed with myself because I didn’t believe I was good enough and I wanted to be.  I often compared myself with others.  I didn’t appreciate all that God had given me, everything that was right in front of me.  It wasn’t enough, because in my mind, I wasn’t enough.  When I received this revelation, that I wasn’t humble, I decided to pursue what humility was and how important it is to God.  We shouldn’t boast or be prideful about our talents and the things we do well, but rather acknowledge where they come from and be grateful for them.  Everyone has God-given abilities and talents.  He has provided us with everything we need to function on this earth.  Even knowing all this, even when I pray for humility or try to do the right thing for the right reason,  pride often rears its ugly head.  Those feelings and thoughts just pop up, but I keep pressing on praying for humility.

Being self-critical, or comparing yourself with others (lifting them up while tearing yourself down), complaining and whining are not attributes of humility.  I did plenty of that.  These qualities are actually being prideful because those thoughts and behaviors are self-centered and ego based.  That type of thinking can be all consuming, because it makes everything about the self, not others.

How can humanity achieve peace, love and harmony when thoughts are self-centered?  How can respect for all persons be expressed when we’re either indulging in self-pity, pride or arrogance?  When marinating in self-pity or arrogant thinking, we’re not concerned about the welfare of others.  These types of thoughts can cause ill-behavior and ill-feelings, turning emotions and attitudes into disrespect for others, judging others, anger, breaking up of relationships, creating wars, hatred, resentment, abuse (mental and physical), racism, division, us against them attitude, and more.

So what does God say about humility?

In James 4:6 it says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  In God’s economy, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  It is better for us to choose humility, than to be put in our place out of pride by God or by someone else.

Matthew 18:2-4 – And Jesus called a child to Himself and set him before them and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Colossians 3:11 – “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Sounds like humility is very important to God.  We won’t be able to enter the kingdom of heaven without it.  Whatever happens to us beyond this time we’re in now, according to Matthew 18:2-4, it requires a humble heart, not pride and arrogance to  gain entrance into heaven.   Humility is not something that is just given to us, it’s an attribute we must purposefully choose to possess.  Like you would choose to put on a specific article of clothing daily, you must choose to put on humility, compassion, gentleness and patience every day, then act accordingly.  These are virtues we decide to wear daily, or not.  Humility is a choice and an attribute that needs to be cultivated and practiced daily.  You need to be mindful of your motives and intentions of why you’re doing something.  The following bible verse is one of my favorites, because God really doesn’t ask a lot from us, when you think about it.  Just a few simple principles (Ok, simple, but not easy because of human nature) that if applied, can make a tremendous difference in the quality of our lives and our relationships with others.

Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

  • Being humble is not assuming that we can do things by our own strength, because we can’t.  It was by God’s strength and hands that we were created, not ours.  Everything we have, our gifts, talents, abilities and resources were given to us by Him.
  • Being humble is using our gifts to elevate and serve others.  Opportunities are everywhere if you just look.  We were not given self-serving gifts.
  • Being humble is being kind to others.  This could look like opening a door for someone, helping someone cross the street, opening your wallet to feed someone who’s hungry or just sharing a smile.  You might be the light they needed in that moment.  Even the smallest pebble will make a ripple.  The smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.  You never know.
  • Being humble is making this world a better place than how you found it.  Clean up after yourself.  Don’t toss trash on the street.  Better yet, pick it up.  Don’t leave your mess for someone else to clean up.  Plant a garden.  Give of your time and resources to others.
  • Being humble is following and respecting rules at home, at work, anywhere.
  • Being humble is being willing to do God’s will and magnify Him, not ourselves.
  • Being humble is not complaining, but being content with what you have at the moment.  Humility will see its value and worth.  It may not be apparent on the surface.  Maybe God/life has a valuable lesson for you to learn in that instance.  Pride would never see it, humility will.

People who are humble usually have a strong moral compass, are willing to serve others, know their own strengths and limitations, are compassionate, gentle, loving, kind, peaceful, content and not self-seeking.

Humility opens doors to love, building bridges, healing, peace and harmony with others.  It transcends our narrow interests, biases, opinions and beliefs and embraces and respects differences.  Humility allows us to recognize how special and wonderfully we all are and that we were created beautifully and magnificently by God.  If this is not apparent to you, then you need to change your lens to see the inherent worth in those around you.

Imagine if we used our gifts to help others, what kind of world would we live in?  Within that concept, you too would be elevated, but not by your own hands, but by the hands of someone else.  What kind of world would that be?  It would be a kinder world.

Humility may not be an easy path for everyone (it isn’t for me), but without it, this world would perish.  Over the weekend I watched several YouTube videos demonstrating how people from all walks of life expressed humility and kindness in big and small ways to help someone else.  In each instance, their out stretched hearts were warmly and gratefully received.  Instead of watching the news, which is self-serving for ratings and pushing agendas, take a look at some of these videos.  Be prepared to be moved and cry.  Love and good still abound in this world, no matter what picture the news media is trying to paint for us to boost their ratings.  Choose love and good, they win out in the end and make this world a better place.

Please leave a comment and any suggestions on how to make this a world a better place than how you found it.  A humble heart is what this world needs more of and it all begins with you and me.  I want to share this video with you.  It’s amazing.  Peace.  Out.






Are You Happy?

Do You Wanna Be?

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Want a tip for transforming your mind, life and achieving happiness?  Be more grateful. This has been found to be one of the single most effective ways to being content and happy.  Happiness doesn’t result in being grateful, being grateful results in being happy. This means paying attention to what you have, NOT focusing on what you don’t have and not taking things for granted.

In every situation we can be grateful and thankful for what God has done for us and for his promises. He has given us life and all we need to survive here on earth. Every day He is with us, sustaining us. Be thankful for his love and for His gift of life.

Everyday is a gift from God. There are no two days alike. Each day is packed with new blessings, surprises, adventures and opportunities to grow to become a better you – if you’re open to it. Gratitude opens the opportunity to receive more. The lack of gratitude is a blocker for blessings. Why would God give you more if you don’t appreciate what you have now. Go through your day looking for things to be grateful for.  It doesn’t have to be a big ticket item like getting a new car or house. It could be someone smiling at you when you’re going through a tough time, someone opening up a door for you, your spouse bringing you a cup of coffee in the morning, a friend calling you just say hello or the fact you woke up this morning or have a job.

Part of my journey over the years has taken me down a lot of roads, searching for peace of mind – a transformed mind. One of the things I found was just how important being grateful is. Not just giving it lip service but real heartfelt gratitude. This one act alone has proven to be an essential ingredient in lifting my spirits, turning my thinking around, experiencing contentment in the moment, improving my relationships, being happier and more joyful.

One of the ways to transform your mind is to practice gratefulness on a daily basis. How easy it is to take everyday things for granted such as water, our health, food, time, and each other in our busy lives. We settle into our routines: get up, dress, grab something to eat as we hurry out the door to get where we need to be, rush through the day, pick up the kids from school, help them with their homework, make dinner, maybe watch a little TV, get ready for bed, then do it all over again the next day.

Routines can cause us to function on auto-pilot and become numb to life’s daily gifts and blessings – like the love of your family, nature, a hug from your child/significance other, a beautiful sunset, the ability to walk, bathe yourself, or the fact that you can do as much as you do every day. I’ve worked with brained injured adults for many years and watched as they struggle daily to just stand up and take a few steps, comb their hair, speak, eat, things we do effortlessly and without much thought. With each victory they make joy and gratitude light up their faces and their loved ones. Sometimes just the simple ability to utter a few functional words to ask for something is greatly appreciated. Many are truly grateful they survived a car accident, fall or a stroke. I noticed that those who were grateful made the greater gains and or better adjustments to their deficits.

The act of being grateful alone can lead to a more healthy and happy life. This is not a new idea. It goes back thousands of years; it’s talked about in the Bible, by philosophers and spiritual leaders. Now science has backed up the benefits of being grateful. I must admit, this is an area that I did not pay enough attention to. Many times I found myself numb to what was right in front of me, such as missed opportunities with my son, mother, family, friends, etc. Opportunities that I didn’t value much at the time, because I was too busy to appreciate what I had in those moments. My mother is gone now and how I wish I could turn back the clock and spend more quality time with her. I really miss her. Yes, I was generally thankful for what people did for me, all that I have and can do. However, I didn’t fully engage in being truly grateful on a consistent, daily basis.

Being grateful is not just thanking someone for a gift, or being able to purchase a house or car, or getting a promotion, though those things are something to be grateful about. I’m talking about being gratitude for everyday things: like running water, being able to perform simple tasks such as walking, the sunlight, rain, being alive, the love of family and friends, etc.

So what is gratefulness and what are the benefits science has found for being grateful?

I found this definition from Grateful – warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful

Being grateful is a choice and will be beneficial to you especially during difficult times as proven by Robert A. Emmons, a leading researcher on gratefulness. According to his studies, the benefits of being grateful are numerous. A grateful heart and mind can result in:

Improved mental health
Coping better with daily stress/being calmer
Having a stronger immune system
Being happier and having a more positive outlook on life.
Improved relationships
Improved moods/attitudes
A healthier heart
Suffer less from depression
More engaging socially

Practice gratitude by verbally and or writing down 5-10 things daily. Notice new things, specific things like someone doing something special for you. Tell someone how much you appreciate them and why. Do something kind to show your gratitude. It will make you happier and more fulfilled. Gratitude will help shift your prospective from blah to awesome!

Develop an attitude of gratitude in the good times and during the difficult times. In the good times gratitude will help you not to take things for granted and in the tough times will lift up your spirits and turn your thinking around.

“Even in the midst of the greatest difficulties you will experience in life, you can always find things for which you are truly grateful.” Brian Tracy.

And remember, the more you practice something, your brain is changing, evolving toward that practiced thought/behavior. Your brain is growing in that area, getting stronger with each attempt at perfecting your target behavior and that coupled with faith in God will truly transform your life.

Please leave a comment, questions or any suggestions you would like to share on being grateful.  I would like to know. We learn from each other.  Learning is a life-long process and we need each other to grow in Christ to live a happy and purposeful life.

Peace.  Out.