Humility is not an Option

I recently opined this at Barbara's place:
Most of life is designed to humble you.. humility is the secret to life.. it will cause you to listen to good advice.. it will help you in all of your relationships.. it will help you to interpret adversity in a healthy way.
Do you find this to be true? When I think about humility I think of men like the Apostle Paul. He was a tough religious man before Jesus appeared to him and asked this question:
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Have you ever been humbled like this? Before Jesus appeared to him Paul (aka Saul) zealously persecuted Christians. The scriptures say that he "was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison." (Acts 8:3). I wonder what it was like for Paul when Jesus showed up and confronted his misplaced zealotry? It had to be humbling and maybe even humiliating to know that he and his "ministry" was fighting God.

Do you find comfort in Paul's story? It helps me to know that God humbled Paul in this way. Sometimes humility really looks like humiliation - can you relate.. I can. So often in my life I have felt like an absolute failure.. so often my pride (especially the religious variety) and my judgmental words have returned to me with humiliating results. It reminds me of this verse:
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5b)
Pride is not an option for a believer.. and neither is humility. We can either clothe ourselves with humility or find God humbling us.. and the latter often resembles humiliation. So what does humility look like? Maybe it looks like love? How about this definition?
Humility is patient, humility is kind and is not jealous; humility does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Humility never fails.
In truth humility is an expression of love - for God and each other. When we have pride we do not love.. when we love we are humble. Consider the love of Jesus:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
For Jesus, humility resulted in "death on a cross".. why would we expect it to look any different for us?


  1. "For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." i Peter 4:17-19

    Strong words that fly in the face of so much that is taught that because we love God we will not suffer. The anvil and the furnace are real places where Our LORD works to being about His purposes in us. Praise God!!!!

  2. Seems like I always get humbled by my own words or actions.
    I can relate to this post in many ways.
    I used to KNOW so much, HA!

  3. "Sometimes humility really looks like humiliation." So true, so true. At least in my experience and as I watch and observe around me as well.

    I think you've touched on one of those key insights we don't want to look at.

    Probably because we're too proud!

    And certainly because we're too unloving.

    Thanks KB.

  4. Great stuff, KB!

    Humility is truly one of the most coveted of the Christian character traits...and often the most elusive! (You know the old soon as we feel like we've mastered humility, we've lost it!)

    For years now, I've carried with me the mindset of "Humility through gratitude." I found that if I just remain grateful for Christ and His Kingdom, then humility comes (a little) more naturally. But as soon as I lose gratitude...humility is lost as well.

    I love your use of Phil.2. Have you ever wondered why the use of the word "attitude" in verse 5 is singular instead of "attitudes"? It truly brings to life the character of Jesus...that he had ONE attitude ALL the time...HUMILITY.

    HOOOWEEE! I don't always know what humility looks like in me. But I ALWAYS know when I display something OTHER than that!

  5. You chose examples of humility "in the face of..." - Paul knocked off his horse, Jesus remaining silent, appearing humble and taking on death on a cross.

    In this Advent season, there are two other Biblical examples of humility you could add:

    Mary, who was visited by the angel with some outstanding news, asked a single technical question, and then "Fiat - be it done unto me according to Thy Word." No arguing, no bargaining, no anxiety. The weirdest thing in the world was happening to her, and her faith took her through the experience, carried in the boat of her humility.

    Joseph, who never even got to see an angel, who was visited in a DREAM, for Heaven's sake, who nonetheless obeyed the directive to take Mary and flee to Egypt, and then come back when it was safe. And see people in temples proclaim this child the expected savior. And raise Jesus in "wisdom and stature." And he doesn't even get any recorded sayings for Scriptural posterity!

    These two are examples of humility in secret, where only God can see, where nobody in the world can credit them with their righteousness.

  6. Thanks TZ.. I imagine their humility was a major factor in God's selection of Mary and Joseph.

  7. Actually you posted it at my place and I am always grateful for your insight, wisdom and company...

  8. As you have said "pride is not an option". Sadly I have seen way too much of this in ministry. Everything from who built the biggest church to who has sold the most books.

  9. The thing I find is that the longer I live the more aware I am of how little humility I have. I am not as much of a pompous ass as I used to be. The little humility that I may have has come about for two reasons. First, has been having to deal with the cummulative consequences of the way I have treated people, especially my family. Secondly, and more importantly, has been the fact that God is in the reconstruction/redemption business.

    I remember a time when I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to love another human being. The sad thing was that I had been married for 15 years and had two sons at that time. That was humbling. Thankfully, God put processes and people in place which began to help me see and remove obstacles between me and Him. That had to happen before my relationships with myself and others could begin to heal. The God-given epiphany and the arduous process He led me through are the only reasons I am not as much of a fool as I once was.

    However, I also know that I am in great need of God's continued redemption. Fortunately, awareness of my need is one of the things God desires of me.

    "We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen."
    Thomas Merton

    In truth, I am just as clueless as to how to proceed as I was 11 years ago. The good news for me is that God is in control and I am not, even though much of the time I live in the delusion that I am.

    "What is the use of knowing our weakness if we do not implore God to sustain us with His power? What is the value of recognizing our poverty if we never use it to entreat His mercy. . . . The value of our weakness and of our poverty is that they are the earth in which God sows the seed of desire [for Him]."
    Thomas Merton

  10. I wrote the previous comment, noticed that I was rather proud of what I'd written. *sigh*

    Then I asked myself, "what IS humility?" I went back and read your post again. Just as I thought I had remembered, there was a definition, straight out of scripture:

    Humility is patient, humility is kind and is not jealous; humility does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Humility never fails.

    That being the definition, there is no doubt, I am sooo not humble.

    Ah, well. It's a good a place to carry on from as any other.

    I'll stop filling up comment column inches now.

  11. I never feel more whole & complete or free than when I actually submit to the shower of humility

  12. Great blog; i discovered from Bill Tammeus's blog, which unfortunately used to have good discussions but has been taken over by some vicious atheist posters who have driven everyone else off.

    Even with subtle threats; why Bill allows that I don't know but there is no possibility of good discussion over there anymore, and a lot of the great posters have left.

    I am looing for new blog home, so to speak.

  13. Some really wonderful thoughts in this feedback..

    + anvil and the furnace.. great imagery Susan

    + I used to KNOW so much.. I relate Shaun

    + Humility through gratitude.. I loved that DK

    + Great Merton quote Gary.. and I can relate to being a pompus ass :)

    + the shower of humility.. more wonderful imagery mibman

    + thanks for stopping by Andrew.. understand your frustrations.. it is why I usually try to keep my comments brief.. sin can sometime be found in an abundance of words :)

  14. If pride is the cause of most of our human problems - and I believe that it is - than humility must be the cure. Jesus provides the ultimate example of humility in not only how he lived his life but that his mere coming to earth was an example in itself.

    God was willing to leave heaven and come to earth in the form of a babe in diapers. Now that is humility. Wow.


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