I had a lot of conversations with people lately, and read a lot of articles and blog posts, about this topic of humility. In trying to figure out what it means, what it looks like, I’ve been struck by just how easy it is to forget that humility is more than just an idea, more than just a topic we talk about- it’s a calling.
Humility is defined this way: an attitude of lowliness an obedience to God, grounded in the recognition of one’s status before God, fully acknowledging absolute dependence upon God. That’s a mouthful. But when you break it down, true humility is seeing through God’s eye, not our own. It’s understanding that God is greater than I am, and that others are just as valuable to God as I am, no matter who they are or what they’ve done! That’s what we see in the way Jesus lived and died (Philippians 2:6-11).
True humility, which we are called to as disciples, means that we recognize that and we live it out. We submit to God in everything. We recognize the virtues and talents of others and honor who they are in God’s eyes. We recognize our own talents and virtues, as well as our limits, and see ourselves through God’s eyes.
Pretty great idea, huh? But what about actually living that out? We’d prefer to say something like this: humility sounds good and all, but it’s just too hard to like that person…they drive me crazy…they have so many bad/annoying/irritating qualities that I simply can’t honor them!
More often than not, we’d prefer God to submit to our will. We like to recognize our own virtues and talents, and want others to honor who we are in our own eyes. And we often recognize the limits of other’s gifts and talents, and like to point them out to whoever will listen.
But think about it for a minute. Humility is seeing others as having worth and value. When God became flesh, dwelt among us, and died that horrible criminal’s death, He did it for me, for you, for the homeless man at the intersection and the hooker on the street corner. He gave everything because He loves you, He loves the _______-supporter (fill in the blank with whatever it is you’re opposed to), He even loves the annoying girl/boy that you simply can’t stand.
All those people who frustrate or aggravate you, those are the ones you need to value, and honor, and see through God’s eyes. It’s easy for us to justify our dislike for others. Even easier to justify treating them as less-than-human because we are seeing them through our own eyes. But we are called to see others through God’s eyes.
Who are the people you can’t stand? Who is it that you would prefer not to ever interact with, let alone treat as though you love them? Ask yourself, are you honoring that person’s worth in God’s eyes? Are you truly submitting yourself to God when you choose to devalue someone else based on what you see?
Humility is more than just an idea. It’s vital to who we are called to be as disciples. If you don’t embody a truly humble spirit, then you are being ruled by your own pride. And pride is the ultimate sin, because it puts us above God. Choosing to devalue someone else is choosing your own ways over God’s.
This week, ask God to point out to you those ways in which your pride is getting in the way of seeing others as God does. But be prepared, God will answer your prayer. He will point those people out to you that you need to start treating differently. It may mean you will have a lot of forgiveness to seek. It may mean that you will have to deal with those people you really don’t want to. But that’s what humility is all about. Treating everyone with the love that God treats you with. It may seem like a tough thing now, but when you are able to truly be humble, you will be blessed, and will be an honor to God!
Sermon Notes for “Foundation: Humility” from Jan 27, 2014
- An attitude of lowliness and obedience
- Grounded in the recognition of one’s status before God
- Acknowledgment of absolute dependence upon God
The Opposite of humility is Pride:
- Arrogance or haughtiness
- Thinking of yourself way too highly
- Pride was Satan’s great sin: he thought of himself as better than God
- It’s also our biggest sin
o We think we are better than God, that our ways are better than His
Pride is thinking my way is best
Humility is knowing God’s ways are best!
Scripture has a lot to say about pride and humility
- Psalm 10:4
- Proverbs 11:2
- Proverbs 16:5
- Proverbs 16:18
C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Humility is necessary for true Christ-like faith.
- Why? It puts us in a right place- below God
- It’s what Christ Himself did
o Read Philippians 2:6-8
- And we are to act the same way!
o Read Philippians 2:1
§ If you desire to be a true disciple, THEN ACT LIKE IT!
o Read Philippians 2:2-5
Humility is made up of three attitudes
- Submitting to God
- Recognizing virtues and talents in others, and honoring them
- Recognizing your own talents and virtues, and knowing our limits
Without a humble spirit, without putting ourselves below God, we can never hope to become fully-devoted mature followers of Christ!
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.