Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Heart of Humility: Free to Be Me- A Romans “To Do” List

This is part of an 'unpacking' of Romans 12-16. I listed 10 things to practice in response to the glorious information in Romans 1-11. In light of God's mercies, Paul paints a picture of our response. Today is humility.

1) Lower your view of yourself... I no longer have to compare and compete. I am who I am because God knows me, made me, chose me, and loves me. I do not feel shame or condemnation. I am free! I see my strengths and my weaknesses.. it is who I am. True humility is not throwing aspersions at yourself.. it is not thinking less of yourself... it is thinking of yourself less. I can get out of my little self and start living.

Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

“Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
(I Peter 5:5,6 NKJ italics mine)

Under the umbrella of Christian love is the pursuit of Biblical humility. It is a commitment to submit to God, and in doing so, eliminates self-promotion or selfish ambition. This attitude of humility lays a beautiful foundation for developing and fostering relationships that the world indeed marvels. A humble person is approachable, calm in stressful situations, and contributes to a positive environment.
Humility cuts across the very core of sinful human nature- pride. A proud person is hard to love and is incapable of loving anyone other than self. Biblical history is full of God’s wrath against man’s pride. We see it dealt with in individuals and nations. Pride promotes factions and dissentions along with it fueling bitterness and isolation.
What are some of the benefits of humility when modeled by followers of Christ? First, humility generates a spirit of unity and cooperation. Truly humble people seek a common good that exists outside of personal desires. When people care more about improving a situation than whether their personal agendas are being met, it creates a great sense of community and cooperation. People are more willing to volunteer and sacrifice when the Spirit has given them a heart of humility. I have observed in our school a teacher who always checks to see if our detention hall has a teacher there to monitor it. Occasionally, one of our faculty members forgets that it is their turn to monitor this hour before school. I have seen this teacher fulfill the duty willingly and never mention to the other teacher that they did this for them. Only a heart of humility allows for such a service to be made without strife or dissention. When Christians seek Biblical humility, there is enormous unity within the entire body.
Secondly, Biblical humility promotes honesty in communication. Truly humble people speak the truth in love, and listen to truth in love. When receiving admonition, a humble person remains patient and demonstrates great forbearance. I know of a faculty member who was confronted by an explosive parent. I watched with admiration as this teacher accepted the criticism in sincerity and love. This gentle spirit turned the wrath of this parent in a useful discourse of the situation. By the end of ten minutes, it was the parent who was apologizing for having incorrect information and an ungodly attitude. In the same way, humble people can show great courage to speak truth when it may not be politically expedient to do so. A humble person is not afraid of men, but has a quiet confidence in the protection of the Lord. A humble person will say what he feels is the truth, and suffer consequences in doing so. These types of people eliminate political environments that so easily enslave us.
Thirdly, Biblical humility provides a framework for forgiveness and understanding. I think this is the winning edge among Christian relationships. All successful, long term relationships depend on an understanding of Biblical forgiveness. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us. I know of a teacher who practiced Biblical forgiveness toward a man who murdered his brother, and another faculty member experienced the peace and victory of forgiving someone who killed her father. These are extreme circumstances, only accomplished by a supernatural outpouring of God’s spirit. They serve, however, as a model for us to forgive when wronged.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32)
If Christian communities practice this kind of forgiveness, supported by a heart of humility, they will see dramatic impact on the atmosphere of any church, school, or nation. This humility also allows us to understand a situation with great love and compassion.

False Humility

Part of the problem in developing a heart of humility is the deception of the flesh. The Bible warns believers to search out and eliminate false humility, which is an appearance of spirituality, but with no true inward power. Ironically, these people actually take pride in their humble appearance.

“ Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels…These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Col. 2:18,23)

Biblical humility is not self-deprecation, the so-called “aw-shucks” false humility that resonates so emptily in relationships. You know that person. He is the one who can never take a compliment and always understates an achievement or accomplishment. “Aw shucks, I am so poor and lowly, and I am absolutely worthless.”
I think the Biblical model of humility is selfless. It seeks to build God and others up, but not bring yourself or your institution down. True humility is not afraid of proper, Biblical boasting. Biblical boasting is an active desire to point out the Excellencies of the Father. It is a decision to give up a right or entitlement for the glory of God and service of others. “Thank-you for that compliment, but I couldn’t do it without the Lord, isn’t He great!” or “I am so thankful to be the teacher of the year, this award deserves to be shared with all my fellow colleagues. They give me inspiration daily to pursue excellence, as unto the Lord.”
A telling sign of false humility is how one responds to questions of concern or criticism. A truly humble person is not reactionary, but patient and loving in conflict. A person of false humility cannot keep a gentle spirit in these circumstances. A person of false humility is generally negative, and leads complaints or dissentions. A person filled with false humility does not have very many deep or loving relationships.

The Great Model of Humility

Our model of course is Jesus. The glorious passage in Philippians Chapter 2 teaches us that Christ willingly let go of His rights for us. A test for this humility is found only in by searching the inner man. How do you feel when a fellow teacher gets a reward or a break? How quickly do you defend a colleague if a student or a parent is criticizing him? How often do you get upset if it seems that you are not being noticed or you have to give up a privilege? How quickly do you volunteer to help a need, knowing it may cost you some time and effort? May the Lord grant to all of us through His spirit the attitude of submission and humble service to the Lord. If we do that, we are promised His blessings and grace. He will honor the effort “in due time”.
Today, make a commitment to build others up and worry less about yourself. Ask the Lord for a heart full of true, Biblical humility. The only one that will notice is your Savior, but, in reality, He is the only one who needs to know.

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