In the American church, I think it is safe to say (or maybe not safe, but brutally honest) that we have some problems. I grew up in the church as was raised in a christian home. I was taught that in order to be a good person, I needed to be humble. I tried endlessly to be humble. I would never say anything good about myself, or as my beautiful mother would put it, “Don’t toot your own horn.” I would never accept compliments, I got so good at being “humble” I never even thought anything nice about myself. I went 21 years of my life thinking that in order for God to love me, I had to believe only the worst things about myself. I took, “humility” to a place God never intended it to go.
When I was a child, I was told that I had to work on my pride-problem. But I didn’t know what this meant. I didn’t think I was prideful but all of my spiritual leaders were telling me to “humble myself”. I was told I had a problem, but given no clear direction on how to fix it. Pointing out a person’s sin, without replacing it with God’s intended behavior/habit/way of living, is like giving a child a handgun and saying, “Good luck!” It’s dangerous and stupid.
I spent all of high-school really trying hard to be humble because I loved Jesus, I needed him and I knew that, “The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” (Psalm 147:6). I may not have read the whole bible but I knew enough to know, God doesn’t like it when his creations get “too big for their britches”. The problem wasn’t my lack of desire to be humble, it wasn’t my lack of love or passion for Christ, the problem is that humility comes with wisdom, and I didn’t have wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).
I got to a point early on in my life where I was so “humble” I was depressed. Let me clarify something for you; Jesus was perfectly humble and he was never depressed!
Humility, my dear friend, is not denying there is anything good about you. Nor is pride believing you have amazing strengths and special qualities. True humility is the recognition that all of the amazing qualities you have (because trust me there are many) are not because you did anything to have them, but simply because God is gracious and loves you perfectly. God takes delight in the work of his hands.
When God created you, he didn’t think, “Hmmm… I don’t want this one to have any pride so I’m going to make them totally useless at life so that at least I can love them because they will be humble…” (I realize this sounds silly, but when you are depressed and can’t take a genuine compliment, this is basically where your thought process is. I know because this is what I used to think, without even knowing it.)
When God created you he was excited! He created you to be made in his image and likeness, that is pretty spectacular already! Then to really outdo Himself, God put together so many unique characteristics inside you and he made every part of you with love. If the God of all creation, the one who made all the things you love in this world, put so much focus into making you a work of his art, then don’t you think he relishes with delight when his other creations notice how great you are?
When someone gives you a compliment, false humility says, “No, I am not that way, am nothing.” True humility on the other hand says in excitement, “I know right! God is so cool to make me this way.” — Ok, maybe that’s just how I answer compliments… Feel free to put it into your own words. The point is true humility is not obtained when you believe only the worst things about yourself. True humility is when you accept that all of the great things about yourself have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the One who created those great things about you.
So now the question is, “How do I become truly humble?”
Stay tuned for next week’s answer to that question… In the mean time, go and read through the Psalms, David wrote most of them and he was called, “A man after God’s own heart.” i.e. he was humble.
Also think about this, God want’s us to be humble, not because he is the only one who can be proud, but because he himself is the ultimate example of humility.
To be continued…
He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.