“Humility is not thinking less of oneself, it is thinking of oneself less.” I came across this quote on a friend’s Facebook page a couple months ago. I thought to myself, “Wow! What a concisely profound statement.” So what did I do? I copied, pasted and reposted it on my own page, of course! And though I would never have admitted this at the time, even to myself, in the back of my mind was a long list of folks I thought could benefit from my “borrowed” wisdom. If you know me you are probably already chuckling just a little. Over the next three days, my heavenly Father (who loves me enough to show me when I am being a hypocrite) supplied me with many opportunities, big and small, to live out this principle that I so boldly proclaimed for all 300 of my Facebook friends to see! It was not a good week, to say the least. Pretty sure I failed every single “test” of humility that came my way. So after I finished banging my head against the wall (figuratively speaking), I figured I might as well see what true humility really looks like.
First I looked at all the ways I had messed up that week and began a list of what humility is NOT, since this was the only area I could claim any expertise in. Here is the list quoted from my journal that week:
1. Humility is NOT being defensive when I am criticized, either justly or unjustly.
2. Humility is NOT taking pleasure in someone else’s pain or failures.
3. Humility is NOT responding harshly to my family because I feel overworked and unappreciated.
4. Humility is NOT constantly perceiving disapproval or judgement in others’ remarks. (It’s not about ME!)
5. Humility is NOT low self-esteem, being so consumed with my own self-image that I am of no use to anyone.
This is not an exhaustive list, of course, just a few examples. Now to answer the big question… what is true humility? (not to be confused with true humiliation, which I am painfully acquainted with.) The only person I knew who ever existed and exhibited true humility was and is Jesus Himself. He is our example, so I took a look at some familiar Bible verses and came up with a short list of what humility should look like in my life.
1. Humility is praying for my “enemies”.
2. Humility is loving the difficult people in my life sincerely by my actions, words and attitudes.
3. Humility is giving grace freely because of the grace God in Christ has given me.
4. Humility is being willing to recognize and work on my own flaws and weaknesses.
5. Humility is choosing to see the good in everyone instead of focusing on their flaws.
6. Humility is giving of my time and resources to serve others.
7. Humility is being willing to be LED.
I am a work in progress and make no claim to have mastered this list, but I am working on it, and ALL things are possible with God, even for a screw-up like me! Life is hard, relationships take work, and nothing good comes easily. Maybe that is a trite and cliched statement, but it is true nonetheless. My life, like yours, is filled with intricate and complicated relationships, and more than anything I want to be the wife, mom, step-mom, sister, friend, daughter that God desires me to be. I will fail more times than I succeed, but with God’s grace I will keep getting back up and trying again!
Phillipians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.”
1 Peter 2:21,23 “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps… When they hurled their insults at Him he did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats, Instead, He entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.”
1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”