1 Peter 5:5b-6 (NIV 1984) "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
Less than three hours after I posted last week's devotion on pride (if you haven't read it, at least read the title, it will make this story much more entertaining), I was outside vacuuming out our van. My son approached me and asked if I would try out his new "sweet" shoes, aka: Heelys.
In my humility, I told him, "Give me those goofy shoes with wheels and I'll show you how it's done son." As I tied the laces while humming "Footloose," I recalled my roller-skating glory days to my nine-year-old. I told him how I won the limbo championship, danced the hokey-pokey, and even skated backwards to, "Old Time Rock-n-Roll."
I stood up with these "shoes" and quickly realized they were nothing like my roller-skates. Do I swallow my humble pie now or after I crash, I thought. Let's just say, Heelys are not made for people in my age group. They should put some kind of disclaimer on those death traps. My devotion on pride came to the forefront of my mind as did the verse in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (You can stop laughing now.)
Last week emphasized the dangerous effects of pride in our relationship with God and others. This week we'll discover the significant role humility plays.
Humility is a key component when we follow Christ. Pride inhibits this surrender because many refuse to admit they actually need Him and would rather live independently of God. Humility allows us to accept God's authority by submitting to His Lordship. It opens our eyes to our weaknesses and unworthiness which allows us to see our desperate need for Jesus. Humility also enables us to recognize our sin for what it is in light of who God is.
A first century puritan once said, "When we gaze upon the brilliance of God's untarnished holiness, we become acutely aware of the hideousness of our sin and the smallness of our greatness." This realization should bear the fruit of repentance in our lives.
The word humble (tapeinos) means to make low; to bow. The humble person is not concerned with elevating themselves. They are not self-centered or concerned about their status. CS Lewis says, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself, less." In truth, humility is the ongoing recognition of our position in relation to God.
A few years ago, I searched the meaning of the key verse in 1 Peter, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." The Lord whispered to my heart, "When you are truly humble Hester, you will recognize my place of authority in your life . . . this is when you are TEACHABLE." This truth penetrated deeply. When I am humble, I am teachable.
God continued to reveal to me characteristics of a teachable heart. They are attentive to the Lord, eager to follow His lead, obey His instructions and they are also willing to receive and respond to His rebuke and discipline.
A heart full of pride is not teachable. When we shut God out, we fail to be teachable disciples. This is an oxymoron. A disciple is a doing learner; one who puts into practice what they know to be true and have learned. When we are not teachable we lose the opportunity to learn from God, grow in Him and to be transformed into His likeness.
An unknown author says it this way, "Jesus was a walking scalpel, set upon the earth with love and deft wisdom to prune away the hate and the pride and the poison out of your human heart and mine; if we will let Him."
In response to last week's list, "My Name is Pride. I am a Cheater." by Beth Moore, the Lord prompted me to develop a similar list regarding humility: "My name is Humility. I am a Teacher."
- I teach you how to celebrate others accomplishments because you acknowledge you are not in competition with them.
- I teach you to rejoice when someone receives an honor because you can admit they deserve it.
- I teach you to put others before yourself because that is what Christ did.
- I teach you to apologize when you are wrong because you are willing to admit your mistakes.
- I teach you to ask for forgiveness because you understand the importance of making amends and maintaining unity.
- I teach you about true security because their is no need to be jealous of others.
- I teach you not to judge others because you know you are no better than anyone else.
- I teach you to say 'no' to entitlement and a me-first mentality because you follow the example of Christ by serving others.
- I teach you your weaknesses because it helps you recognize your need for Jesus.
- I teach you about righteousness because you hunger for God and His Word.
- I teach you to respect authority because you are surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.
- I teach you to recognize your sin because you need to be reminded you cannot save yourself.
- I teach you where your true value comes from because you confess you are nothing without Christ.
- My name in Humility and I am a Teacher. You love me because I keep your relationship with God in check. You want me around because I manage to suppress your ego enough for you to bow at the feet of Christ.
- God has amazing things in store for you. As long as you stick with me, Humility, you will always grow.
Friends, when we are humble, we are teachable. What is humility teaching you?
Ask the Lord this week to reveal areas of pride in your life. Request that He help you recognize seeds of arrogance that are being nurtured in your heart. Consider the importance humility plays in your spiritual growth.
Surrender the weakness of pride to His lordship and allow Him to lift you up.
How does humility and being teachable fit together?
How does humility help you grow spiritually?
How can you empty yourself in order to make room for God?
From the list above, how is humility teaching you?
Heart Transforming Word:
Daniel 4:37b (NIV 1984) "Those who walk in pride, he is able to humble."
Psalm 149:4 "For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation."
Isaiah 66:2b "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word."
Matthew 23:12 "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
James 4:6 "But he gives us more grace. That is why scripture says: 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' "
James 4:10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. Edited 2013. All rights reserved.