Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How Do I Practice Humility?


"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, and patience" Colossians 3:12.

Today's devotion marks the third one I have written on this particular scripture. I have discussed kindness and compassion thus far. Those virtues were very straightforward, easy for me to grasp and strive to practice daily. When Paul states we need to love others with humility, I do not have as clear a picture of what that looks like. At the same time, I have come to think that humility is both a challenge for me and the most important love virtue of all.

I know arrogance and boastfulness are opposite behaviors of being humble.  And, it's relatively easy for me to keep those in check. I also can quickly pick those traits out in someone else. Of course I can!  Dictionary.com defines humility as having a modest opinion of one's own importance or rank; freedom of pride or arrogance. 

In Ephesians 4:2, Paul tells us to be completely humble and gentle. So, being humble and being gentle go together. A humble person has a gentle heart and demonstrates gentleness to others. True humility is being respectful of others.

In Philippians 2:3, Paul admonishes us:  "In humility, consider others better."   Wow! What about being self-confident and strong, which today's society touts as important personal goals? Paul is talking here about not acting out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. He is telling us to consider others needs. C. S. Lewis says that true humility is not thinking less of yourself but instead is thinking of yourself less. True humility then is both living with your ego in the back seat and serving others; and, finding true peace and joy in serving others.

In James 4:10, James writes to tell us how to act like Christians. James says to humble yourselves before the Lord. That's clear to me as God is all knowing, all omnipotent, all loving, all forgiving. I am clearly unworthy in the sight of God.  Before God, I am by my human nature humbled, yet do I always feel and act humble? Or does my own agenda include taking myself too seriously and/or putting myself first? And did Jesus not demonstrate total humility when he became man and was obedient to his Father by dying on the cross?

Matthew 18:4 says, "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." A child is by nature submissive, meek, not haughty or prideful, dependent on others, trusting of others. A young child is characteristically humble and teachable. 

In Proverbs, 11:2, we are told that with humility comes wisdom and in 15:33, that humility comes before honor. It is more important to be humble than to be praised or honored.

My father was by nature a humble man. In 1915, he was born to new immigrants from Russia; they were Volga Germans to be exact. In this new country, they were migrant workers. My father had only a fourth grade education as he had to help his family in the beet fields. He worked very hard, served God and his family first, and strived to "not throw his weight around".  He was a great example of a humble, gentle, and strong man. He set a wonderful example of what humility looks like for his ten children.

Prayer: Jesus, son of God, who became Man at the will of your Father in the most perfect act of Humility, and died on the cross for our sins, help me to strive to practice humility in my life daily. I want to be humble, gentle, respectful of others, and find joy in serving others. Like my father, I long to be humble before you. Guide me to a greater place of true humility in my heart and in my life.

Connie Barry

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