30. Why Humility?
And thus, we come to the final chapter in the 30 week series of BELIEVE. Like many of the the elements included in BELIEVE and THE STORY, I have thought to myself, "I would not have included this story" or "I wonder why Randy Frazee and/or Zondervan did this."
I wonder this morning "Why Humility?" "Hope" and "Humility" are two of the ten key virtues included in BELIEVE which are not found in the Galatians 5:22-23 listing of the fruit of the Spirit. Hope is a virtue similar to faith or belief and of course listed repeatedly in the New Testament, such as 1 Cor. 13, "faith, hope, love."
But again, I wonder why list humility compared to all of the other virtues of the Bible? Humility is listed as the polar opposite of "pride" found the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, wrath, envy and pride), contrasted within the seven heavenly virtues (purity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility).
Humility in this day is a virtue sadly lacking in politics, in friendships, in families, marriages, and even in religion. The Greek word (tapeinophorsyne) is so hard to pronounce, it would probably cause you a great deal pride if you were to learn to say it! It literally means lowliness of mind, not in the sense of stupidity, but in one's estimation of one's own importance.
Humility is not low self-esteem, but rather a way of lifting others up, edifying those around us. It is a prerequisite for God to come then and be the one of lifts us up, instead of us trying to lift ourselves up. Often pride comes at the expense of us pushing others down to raise our own importance.
Jesus said that the virtue of humility actually allows God to come and lift us up (see Matt. 18:4, "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven," and Matt. 23:12, "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.")
We may question why humility but Christ certainly does not question it as a virtue. He requires it of us.
The following devotional comes from Zondervan.
What does it mean to value others before myself?
Humility is a driving virtue in the Christian life and community. Choosing to esteem others above oneself encourages harmony and love. The opposite of humility is pride. Prideful people typically believe they are better than others. They strive to get their way at the expense of others or boast as a way of boosting low self-esteem. When a person possesses Biblical humility they draw from internal “God-esteem.” They have received God’s unconditional love and embraced their inherent worth as God’s child. From this belief they are capable of lifting others up.
Jesus is our supreme example of humility. The God of the universe could have ridden into our world on a white horse with a serious entourage and fanfare. Instead he came to us as a baby born in a stable to poor parents.
As Jesus was coming to the end of his time on earth, he wanted to impress upon his disciples the importance of humility. He does so in an unforgettable way. (See John 13:1-17.)
What does God require from us? Micah, a prophet to Israel and Judah in the eighth century BC, answered this question with convicting succinctness. What God required then, he still requires of us today.
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. (Read more in Micah 6:6–8.)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3–4)
I choose to esteem others above myself.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
The ultimate humility is found when we place our heart in the constant position of putting God’s glory first and seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness. The more we immerse ourselves into the ministry of Christ to others, the more we experience the abundant life he offers. Seeing him change lives through our obedience is humility at its finest hour.
For growing Christians, a strong sense of self-esteem flows from “God-esteem” on the inside, which frees us to focus on “others-esteem.” When they enter any conversation with a neighbor, the prayer is, Dear God, help me place this person above myself and draw them to you. As the world becomes increasingly self-absorbed, humility will not only be one of the most attractive and refreshing fruit of God’s Spirit to a searching and hurting world, but also a great blessing to our own lives in offering our hearts daily to the Lord, as we exalt him and him alone.