Humility! It’s elusive, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, like happiness. Just when you think you have it, you don’t!
What is humility? One theologian described it as taking one’s rightful place in the world. What does that mean?
Some people think humility is being a doormat for everyone to wipe their feet on. That’s not humility. That’s insecurity. Others think they are being humble by thinking they are worthless and useless. That’s not humility. That’s pride in reverse.
So what is humility? Jesus described Himself as gentle and humble in heart. He told His disciples that they had to become like little children to enter the kingdom of God. What is it about little children that qualifies them to be examples for us? When you stop to think about it, what quality sets children apart from adults? Their dependence!
As much as kids want to do things themselves, they are helpless without adults. A new-born baby will die without attention. A toddler will kill himself if an adult does not watch over him. It takes many years before a child becomes independent and self-sufficient.
Isn’t it amazing that parents take years to teach their offspring to be self-reliant, and yet God wants us to be exactly the opposite. When we become followers of Jesus, we have to learn to rely on Him. Humility is part of being dependent on God as the source of our lives.
Jesus put it very beautifully in His picture of the vine.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (Jon 15:5).
Humility grows with dependence. You cannot be independent and humble. It also grows with submission. Jesus was both submitted to the Father’s will and dependent on Him for everything about His life. He did nothing on His own. He was completely under the Father’s authority.
The bottom line is love and trust. When you love someone, you will trust him. When you trust him, you will submit to him and when you submit to him, you will depend on him. When you put all these ingredients together, what do you get? Unity!
Jesus prayed for unity. It was the first item on His agenda for all those down the centuries who would believe in Him. How is unity possible between people of different cultures? We don’t have to create it. We maintain it by depending on and submitting to Him.
Like happiness, humility is a by-product of dependence. Strangest of all, humble people are least aware of their humility.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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