'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
"It's hard to be humble when you as great as I am...I'm humble and proud of it!"
Most of us have heard these humorous statements, or something similiar at one time or another. They usually elicit a laugh or chuckle because they portray the antithesis of humility as we feel we understand it. I have often wondered why they strike us as being funny - could it be that down deep inside us we realize we really ARE NOT humble. Or, that it is absurd to consider that we or anyone else COULD be. This would imply a belief that we somehow DO understand what it is -at least for us. But facing all of this...well, it just too much. There are much more important subjects to worry about anyway.
The subject of humility can be an exceedingly large subject. However, the potential size of the subject is only exceeded by the simplicity of it when it is recognized in action. It would logically seem that such a large subject would command an equally large crowd of investigators - publications, media coverage, discussion panels, books by authors with different approaches and takes on the subject, documentaries on PBS, C-Span, and even CNN. One explanation for this could be that there is to little evidence of it to examine. Of course, that is only one possible explanation, or part of an explanation. At least it seems fair to say that it is not in evidence as it was at one time, either as subject matter or subjectively practiced.
And it seems impossible to define, at least in a practical sense, either by society, or regretfully even the church. In the instances when I have brought up the subject, or just mention the word in reference to something, I receive looks ranging from wide eyed stares or shock and disbelief, to a hesitant agreement in an effort to quickly change the subject. I am speaking of persons in church circles. It seems that some know vaguely what is referred to, but the subject is just too embarrassing to talk about, or they just do not want to think about it. I get the impression some are feeling "hey man, lighten up..." Pride and arrogance are perceived as a sense of humor and a gift for leadership.(Isaiah 5:20) Whatever happened to Jesus's definition of leadership? (Luke 22:26)
Although the subject of humility - or the word "humility"- has circulated through society for a long time, it’s roots go deeper in the soil of Christianity than anywhere else. The church, at least at one time, attempted to define humility, and then understand how to apply and practice it. This is simply because the Bible has MANY references to humility. WHAT it is was drawn largely from the reference to the ones to whom it was applied to - their words, actions, and relationships with God. Christians in general agreed that it is a required element of righteous and Godly character. It did receive a great deal of emphasis. It is very disheartening to me to see the neglect of emphasis on humility in some facets of Christianity today. It almost seems that the word has been dropped from their vocabulary. The word is almost never heard - only in humorous statements similar to those quoted above, which sometimes are intended more as ridicule than humor.
What great heights, from which, we have fallen!
When one reads the writings of well known Christian writers from just the last century and a half - not to speak of the "church fathers " of earlier times - we cannot help but be struck by the contrast with today. "Before honor is humility". (Proverbs 15:23; 18:12) Perhaps here is a clue as the reason for the enduring value placed on the writings of those Christian leaders of a century and more ago. We still HONOR them and their writings today. Their humility shines forth just from what they said, and how they said it.
Down through the church ages, when an individual or a church failed to develope and maintain a spirit of humility, Christ took action. (Proverbs 16:18) The lack of humility is something very offensive to God - and man. And when, in due time this lack becomes critical in Jesus's judgment, a humbling process begins. (Revelation 3:14-22) This is true, I believe, for individuals and congregations. No one - group or individual - is exempt. After all, where "two or three are gathered together " in Jesus’ name, He is there also. When Jesus deals with the lack of proper humility, it can be a most unpleasant experience. But it is ALWAYS for our good, because His love for us is boundless. (Hebrews 12:5-12) It is interesting that the Greek word or phrase, as I understand it, for "humble" or "humbling" can literally mean "made level with the ground". No one was HUMBLED like Jesus was. He humbled Himself to perform the most complete humbling and humiliation of all eternity. (Philippians 2:8 ) You will recall when He was agonizing in the garden, one translation states that He cast or threw Himself prostrate on the ground, that is, "level with the ground" flat on His face, pleading with the Father if perhaps this cup could pass Him by.
However, there is a false "humility" - a counterfeit. (Colossians 2:18,23) This counterfeit form the apostle Paul struggled against over and over in the churches. This false humility caused all types of problems because the real thing is subject to clever duplication. People can fake it. And with Satan's help, it can be faked really well! (2 Corinthians 11:14) So well sometimes that the Holy Spirit must make the distinction between the counterfeit and the real thing. This adds to the reluctance to even attempt to discern the difference. Many will just brand ALL evidence of humility as being pretence, a farce - counterfeit. Or, the opposite extreme, all as genuine. Whether fake or genuine, to many it is just too difficult to distinguish and to sort out. It is much easier and less time consuming to just write it off in a person as being a fake, self serving, deception, duplicity - "A CON', to put in the vernacular. Some are apt to respond with something like "what's your angle"? Or to others, everyone is humble if they appear to be - a kind of blind acceptance of everthing at face value. This misunderstanding of what God requires has led many into being duped and deceived, and drawn into many hurtful circumstances. Jesus requires us to be discerning, without condemnation. (Matthew 10:16)
There is one scripture in God’s Word which seems to illustrate pure, genuine humility in attitude AND action....it could be called: "Humility In A Nutshell". It is not often quoted - for reasons which seem obvious:
"Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]" (Philippians 2:3 Amplified Bible)...
This is a tough call! - please read that again...
Does God REALLY expect us to do this?
Think about the weight of responsibility place upon us as Christians in this verse. The first reaction is often that this is impossible to do at all, much less to live it. At least, it is "impractical" in our world. Or it is not expedient, or that it "does'nt work". And we know what is meant when someone says that something does not "work" for them. Usually this means that it does not give them the greatest advantage. What this scripture commands WE JUST DO NOT WANT TO DO naturally. Everything in us - that is, in our flesh, our fallen natures will try to keep us from facing it and striving to live by it. Could there be anything that goes against our grain, so to speak, more than this? (Romans 7:18-19,23)
I believe this is one of the most difficult of all commands in the Bible to live out in our world. It is absolutely contrary to this world. But it is commanded, that we may become like Chjrist. We live in an environment that emphasizes the exact opposite. It is almost impossible to escape from the "me first" mode. It started it seems with "me first, then you". Then things progressed (if you want to call it progress) to "me first, maybe you". Now it is "me first, FORGET YOU"! Living out this ONE scripture by mankind would solve most world problems at their source. World peace - in one verse...
Unfortunately, there are very few in this era (although there are a few) of professing Christianity or others who strive to live out this definition of humility. Lets not allow ourselves to become the majority...let us become that proverbial "committee of one" if necessary, who starts a revival - a revival of real, true, humble (Christ like) attitude in our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our world. Let humility become our WARDROBE - clothing that fits over all that we are - what we say and do and think - the robe of righteousness in Jesus Christ. A robe that only He can wrap us in. (1 Peter 5:5-6)
Let it not be counterfeit, a ruse, a ploy, a "con" to manipulate others to get what we want. Lets be REAL in it - and not like an Esau, using fake humility as a hairy garment to deceive. Even when our humility is real, some may question our genuiness. But in time it will manifest itself as real to those who are real. As for others, we must live out Christ's humility, patience and gentleness before them, and to them, in love. And we must love, because He first loved us.
If humility is genuine, it is known to Jesus - and after all, that is what counts. And remember, we must all give an account that includes every idle word.(Romans 14:12) We all must receive God’s grace - and God gives His grace to the HUMBLE. (James 4:6)
Go against the grain. Let Christ in you grow that wonderful grace that is called - HUMILITY! (2 Peter 3:18)
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