“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” –C.S. Lewis
I once watched a grown man in a restaurant basically bang his fists on a table because a waitress got his order wrong. The waitress attempted to take the food back and correct the order. Of course, this wasn’t good enough. He demanded to see the manager. The waitress nervously walked back to get the manager. When he arrived, both the waitress and the manager attempted very tactfully and politely to correct the issue even offering the meal for free. Yet, the man persisted in yelling. Heads were starting to turn and he had successfully made a scene.
Eventually, the man and the party sitting at the table got up and walked out as he continued to yell with bulging veins and a red face. The people with him obviously were embarrassed by the situation. I’ve seen the same embarrassed face on mothers in a department store dealing with a child throwing a tantrum.
Perhaps he was having a bad day. No, clearly, there was a spiritual issue at hand here. The man operated from a heart of pride. It wasn’t the food, per se. It was the fact that he felt that he deserved for the world to bow down to him. In the mind of this prideful man, he was questioning who this waitress thought she was to do such a thing to him. The waitress had insulted his kingdom and he demanded justice for such disrespect. In reality, the waitress had no idea she was doing anything. She was just serving the food as her job required.
The word of God has a lot to say about pride and humility.
When I read Apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament and about him in the latter part of the book of Acts, I see a man so full of humility and overflowing with love for both the unconverted and for the church (individual believers in the body of Christ). Yet, it interests me to see what Paul was before he was converted. It is hard to comprehend such a humble, loving person once being an arrogant Pharisee who prided himself in his own righteousness. Surely, with God, all things are possible.
Paul was once a lead figure in the persecution of the early church before meeting Christ. In fact, he watched and approved of the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 7). He watched as Stephen was stoned to death by an angry mob. The same false religion that killed Jesus was now killing Stephen and Paul was unaffected by it. After all, in his prideful mind, he was a ‘righteous man’ and Stephen ‘deserved what he was getting.’ The callous pride of his heart was evident in the way that he watched the execution with indifference. Yet, after conversion, Paul is portrayed as a submissive (yet stern in the matters of the gospel) and humble leader instead of self-righteous.
Why is it that Paul is suddenly so humble almost instantly in scripture? He personally experienced the grace of God and was transformed by it. True humility begins when we are confronted by the Holy Spirit of God, exposed and convicted of our sin, and offered grace instead of judgment. True humility begins in the heart of the redeemed. That is, those who deserved judgment but yet were embraced by grace.
1.Humility is evidenced by sacrifice.
When I see acts and discussions of humility in the word of God, I see men and women of God setting aside their comforts and conveniences so that another person can experience comfort and convenience. The early church was so concerned about their brothers and sisters in Christ that they sold their possessions so that they could meet their needs (Acts 2:45). Apostle Paul himself was constantly thinking about the needs of others, particularly the salvation of the lost and the health of the church body.
Humility sees a need, feels compassion toward it, and does whatever necessary to meet that need. Someone calls in the middle of the night in a crisis, humility decides to sacrifice sleep and convenience to grab a coffee, hop in the car, and go to the need. On the other hand, pride says that ‘our’ needs are more important and the sleep continues.
When another person is speaking, the humble person will listen intently because they consider what the other person is saying as more important than what they have to say. I watched a close friend over and over again exhaust themselves to be there for those around them that were in a crisis. They listened, gave advice, provided their needs, etc. Yet, when they themselves were in a crisis and in need, the others were nowhere to be found. The difference is humility. The friend does it anyway out of humility knowing the others will not return the favor. The others, consumed in selfishness and pride, have no room for anyone else in their own little world.
Pride has been a relationship-killer since Lucifer was cast out of heaven.
2.Humility is thinking realistically.
Humility is realizing that we are not the only one important in the world. Humility is being awakened to the fact that the world does not revolve around us. Think about it: its pride that rears his ugly head when suddenly their world is interrupted by inconvenience. They go on a rampage to destroy everyone around them when their selfish desires are not met. Their focus is to exalt and lift up self at the expense of others.
When someone messes up an order at a restaurant as I described above, being humble is realizing that we, ourselves, are certainly capable of messing up an order. Humility would have calmly corrected the order, acknowledged that he could of made the mistake themselves, and still leaving a decent tip. Perhaps, they would even go on beyond that and encourage the waitress. Pride, on the other hand, will spend hours yelling at the waitress demanding to see the manager making sure to make a scene and embarrassing those around them. Pride demands that everyone around them submit to them because they ‘are the only one that matters.’
In a nutshell, humility is seeing ourselves for what we really are: sinners. Consider this: the same stuff that we walk on daily is the same stuff God made us out of (Genesis 2:7). We are clumps of dirt held together by God’s divine sovereignty. Furthermore, we are clumps of dirt on a small planet in a huge universe. Consider our mass in comparison to the sun's.
Apostle Paul had no problem with humility because he was confronted by Jesus Christ Himself. Suddenly, Paul was knocked off of his own pedestal, and found himself cowering in the dirt before a Perfect and Holy Christ(Acts 9:1-19). When we are confronted by Holy God in our sin, humility is the natural result.
3. When we are humble, we are most like Jesus Christ.
The living God Himself humbled himself in the person of Jesus Christ, shedding off the glorious attire of heaven and putting on human flesh. God Himself entered into human history in humility. He humbled Himself to purchase us (the specks of dust) an eternal and perfect salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Is it humility or pride that permeates your life? Do we find ourselves yelling at others? Are we thinking realistically? Do we drain others and toss them when they are no longer of value to us? Are we easily offended? We may be dealing with a heart of pride.
Toss yourself at the feet of Christ and look upon Him as Paul did. Ask Him to transform your heart to a heart of humility.
The world needs more humility. Become that person today for those around you.