How humble are you? Humility is one of the rare traits that you can never see in yourself, only others can. As soon as someone says, “I think I’m humble,” they aren’t any more. But being honest about yourself, do you truly desire humility? Would others say they see even a modest humility in your life or do you top your own list of favorite people?
Today, we are talking about biblical humility. Biblical humility is often seen as weakness or the equivalent of self-hatred but it’s neither. In his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller says, “...the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” So humility is not fighting pride by constantly being down on yourself, it is being so focused on Christ and others that you “forget” yourself as the center of your thoughts and affections.
So, how can we practice humility? Below are a few simple steps…
1. Spend time everyday in God’s Word and in prayer. Yes, this sounds cliché but these spiritual practices orient your heart away from yourself and your little kingdom, and toward God. It reminds you everyday that you aren’t the point, you aren’t the center, you don’t need to get your way, etc. and, more positively, God is the point, God is in charge of your life, and God wants to walk with you that day. What would happen in your life if you started every day with that kind of focus on God? If you are looking for how to start reading God’s Word, I recommend begin by reading one chapter a day starting in the book of Matthew.
2. Measure your words. How self-absorbed do you sound? How do your words value Christ and others above yourself? Do most of your words serve you and your desires or do they honor, serve, and build up others? C.J. Mahaney, in his book Humility: True Greatness, wrote,
“Encourage others each and every day–nothing’s more important than our words. Did you know that, on average, each of us speaks about twenty-five thousand words daily? My last book didn’t have that many words. A lot of language is flowing out of our mouths every day and having an impact on those around us. But how much of that flow is fulfilling God’s intended purpose for our speech? How much of it reflects pride, rather than a gospel-motivated humility?”
3. Value “unimportant” people around you. I use quotation marks around unimportant because these people aren’t truly unimportant but our culture tends to treat them that way. For example, how do you treat the cashier at Trader Joe’s? Is he just a machine there to ring up your groceries? How do you honor him as image-bearers of God? What about the custodian at your work or school? Do you speak to her? Do you thank her for the work she does? Do you treat her like you would “an equal” or superior at work? How we treat the people who are “unimportant” in our culture reveals whether our heart is full of a growing pride or humility.
I hope these steps stimulate some thinking in your life as they have mine.
Love you all,