Humility

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1,2)

 

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when…” How would you finish that line? How about, “… when I’m so beautiful.” Or maybe, “… when I’m such a stud muffin.” Or, “… when I’m so much smarter than others.” Maybe, “… when I’m already so humble.” Then there was the guy who was given the “Humility Award,” but it was taken back because he accepted it!

Maybe the best completion of the statement would be something like, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when I am so full of pride.” Pride is the antithesis of humility. One of the emerging (for some reason I don’t like that word) standards of patriotic songs is Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” with the main line of “I’m Proud to be an American.” When they play or sing the National Anthem I have great feelings of pride in our country, that is unless the singer butchers it with improvised, wobbly singing, then I get distracted. Sometimes you just don’t mess with the masters, and that’s one of them times, by golly.

Is “proud to be an American” part of the pride the Bible condemns? How well I remember during basic training, when on a long march from the firing range, all 152 boots of our flight was pounding the pavement in perfect unison. I suddenly begin to swell with pride. We were a bad-a** fighting machine! This was diametrically opposed to my entering attitude of, “I’ll put up with this non-sense if I have too.” They did their job on me; I was becoming one of them. Was that bad pride?

Pat pointed out that there is a difference between “proud” and “pride.” I can be proud of many accomplishments (with a grateful heart) until those accomplishments cause me to think that, because of them, they make me somehow better than others. Since my family (parents and some kinfolk), as was common a couple of generations ago, was not well educated in book learnin’, I took great pride in the fact that I was driven to overcome that heritage. I am afraid that there were times when in fact I did occasionally look down on another who was not so fortunate. That is sin of the worst kind. The kind of pride that thinks I’m better than others, or I know better than God, or everything in life is my doing, or “I did it my way,” is indeed the precursor to one’s downfall (Prov. 18:12).

Phil. 2:3 states “… but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” The world would say No!, No!, No!, you have got to think of yourself first! Where’s your self-esteem?! What the world doesn’t know, however, is that our self-esteem is taken care of because Jesus loves us, and we actually know it! Christian love sees others as worthy of preferential treatment; there’s a big difference between being last because you’re beaten down, rather than out of a the choice of love. As I read this over, I am struck by how poor an example moi has been in all of this. I seem to be writing this out of conviction. I need to be at the head of the line because the other one does not deserve it, bless his heart.

One of the best examples of the humility of serving comes from the owner of Chick-fil-A. As Christians, the Cathy family believe God would have them serve their customers with respect and preferential treatment, as an outworking of the Sermon on the Mount. They “go the extra mile” to treat customers like they have never been treated. If we love everyone as God does, we will, in all humility, treat all with the respect that is due one of God’s children. There is magic in a relationship when respect is given, believer or not.

Then there is the idea of “false humility.” In Colossians 2, Paul describes those who are sort of “super spiritual” passing judgment on others who don’t follow their rules or haven’t been privy to special revelation as exhibiting “false humility.” When the legalists make those comparisons it seems like spiritual pride to me. Perhaps false humility and spiritual pride are the same.

And lastly, Jesus said that if you call your brother a fool, you are in danger of hell fire (Matt.5:25). Although most commentators will not support it, I get a feeling that this verse is a judgement about our sinful pride of looking at one of God’s creation; one whom He created in His image; one for whom He died; one whom He loves unconditionally, and then treating him/her contemptuously. Just who are we, or anyone, not to have the utmost respect and caring for a created image of Yahweh. David Carr, a New York Times columnist, recently referred to the people in the “fly over states” (specifically Kansas and Missouri), as being the “low-sloping brow people.” Elitists do believe that they are genetically superior to all except their own, hence it is their responsibility to order the lives of all those neanderthals, bless their hearts.

Mac Davis wrote a song decades ago, the first line of which was, “O Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” The last line of the chorus is something like, “O Lord it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can.” And, we certainly are, no?

 

Comments

  1. Rachael MacPhee says:

    Thank you for writing and living with conviction G-Dad. And thank you for always encouraging us to be the same. We love you!

  2. Alan Dodd says:

    Thank you G-daughter. You are so kind, and a very special person!
    Love,
    Grandad

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