Read: Proverbs 22:4
Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.
Humility! It is one of the preeminent qualities of Jesus’ character (Philippians 2:1-11) and one of the highest duties of the authentic Christ-follower (Colossians 3:12-14). Yet while humility is a virtue we all laud, and hope to possess, we need to remember that in the days of the Biblical writers, the pagan world scoffed at the idea of humility. To them, pride and dominance were highly regarded, while meekness of character was to be avoided at all cost. So a Biblical writer promoting personal humility was a radical concept in the ancient world.
But those Biblical writers redefined humility in a more noble light; they saw it as simply having a right estimation of oneself rather than what the world saw as a weakness and a character flaw. Having a proper estimation of oneself—that’s really what humility is. I think biblical humility was defined quite nicely by the kids who built a clubhouse and then posted these rules on the door: Nobody act too big, nobody act to small, everybody just act medium.
That’s good: Not too big, not too small…just see yourself as God sees you. That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul had in mind when taught about humility in Romans 12:3,
“Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to, but think soberly, according to the faith God has given you.”
It is this proper estimation of yourself that sets something quite powerful loose in your world and produces the kind of “riches and honor” that Solomon talked about. You see, on the one hand, humility frees you from self-centeredness and arrogance, while on the others, it releases you from the vicious trap of low self-esteem on the other. And in the process, true humility enables you to enter into a powerful lifestyle of ministering to the needs of others. That’s what humility does—and there are not too many forces in this world that are as powerful as that.
So how can you cultivate this kind of humility? There are many ways, but here is one: Start thinking more of others and less of you. Philippians 2:3-4 says,
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
I came across a parable about the man who was talking with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I’d like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” The Lord led him to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of mouthwatering stew, but the people sitting at the table were thin and sickly; they appeared famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles, and each found it possible to reach into the pot and take a spoonful…but impossible to get the spoons back to their mouths. The handle was longer than their arms. As the man shuddered at the sight of their misery, the Lord said, “You have just seen Hell.” They went to the next room and found the same large round table with a large pot of mouthwatering stew in the middle. These people had the same long-handled spoons, but unlike the first room, these were well-nourished and joyful people. The man said, “Lord, I don’t understand.” The Lord replied, “It is simple—it takes one skill: They’ve learned to feed each other, while the miserable think only of themselves. You have just seen heaven.”
Let me give you a challenge for this week: Forget about yourself! Try it. Practice being absent minded when it comes to you. Get your needs and wants out of your thoughts … and replace them with prayers of blessings and plans for serving other people in your life. As Jesus did, give yourself away with absolutely no thought of getting anything in return. Surprise someone with compassion. Heap some unexpected and undeserved kindness on another. Find the most unlikely object of God’s love, and love them like God would.
Try it, and you’ll experience a little bit of heaven on earth.
Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:
Identify one person whom you can serve this week—and do it without being noticed!