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.