Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre. For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. Psalms 149:1-4 (NRSV)
A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. Proverbs 29:23 (NIV)
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)
My two-year old is selfish. This is not a surprise to me, as my first daughter had the same characteristic when she was two. This is not intended as a condemnation, but a statement of fact. We all start out selfish and must be shown what it is to be gracious, patient, kind and helpful. It takes time to learn how to be humble.
I think that is one of the reasons the Me Generation earned their moniker; we were the first generation who were told our rights were more important than our responsibilities. We were sold on feeding our appetites and satisfying our desires. We were the front end of the marketing industries guinea pigs. In the process we have gained an enormous love for ourselves, but have lost the riches of community, service and sacrifice.
When I think of my daughters being selfish, my first prayer is that it will never turn into pride. Right now they just want what they want. If my wife and I don’t discipline in the right way, not only will they want what they want, they will exact whatever price necessary from others to get it. This is the destructive nature of pride. Where humility lightens our load, pride weighs us down and brings us low.
Jesus invites us into community through the doorway of humility. His example through His horrific humiliation on the cross should help us daily maintain a humble perception of ourselves. When we consider that Christ laid down His life to provide salvation for all of mankind, regardless of how many would choose to accept it, we must bow our heads, bend our knees and surrender our hearts.
Humility is one of the central changes that must occur in the life of the believer. It is a transformer, changing our motivation for the things we do and say. Instead of wondering “What’s in it for me?” we ask, “What’s in me that God can use?” We shift from loving others as a means of showing how spiritual we are to loving others because we truly see their beauty and value through Christ’s eyes. Humility gets us out of the way so Christ can get to others through us more effectively.
While the Me Generation was told, “Even if you were the only person in the world, Christ still would have died on the Cross for your sins” the real power of the gospel says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15 NIV)
Christ died for all. That is amazing grace. That is awesome love. That is power through humility. This is the kind of humility I want for my daughters. Not a humility that roots itself in self-abasement and Eeyore-like demeanors, but a humility born of assurance and confidence. This godly humility comes from a clear understanding that we no longer have any worries and can therefore put other’s needs ahead of our own. My daughter is showing the signs of humility and I am so happy to see it take root in her heart.
Unfortunately, I am not humble as Jesus is humble. It is a discipline and I am still working on it every day. I am still learning how to make sacrifices that cost me without demanding any sacrifice from others. I am still discovering the lengths to which God is willing to go to help me live the life of Christ. God is still showing to me in small and great ways how immeasurably big He is and how finite I am. The next time my two-year old throws a fit about not getting what she wants, I will try to remind myself not to do the same thing with my heavenly Father.