Three days into the New Year, many of us are in resolution mode. Some of us have long failed them. Others are still holding on. But as we crank up New Year’s plans for diets, Bible reading, and exercise, let’s not forget the one thing God values most in the creature; humility.
Humility is the virtue of every virtue, and the grounds of all godliness. It’s no exaggeration to say that any pursuit of humility will do you good at all times and in every sphere of life. And pride, the lacking-opposite, is the thing which God says he is against. Though things like pride and self-actualization might be more culturally en vogue than ever, God still hates them.
If you’re like me, you didn’t master humility in 2017. So, whatever priorities we have for 2018, or any year, let’s consider putting humility high on the list. Here are a couple specifics to keep in mind if, like me, you would do well to pursue humility this year.
- Fight against feeling sorry for yourself.
I don’t know all the reasons why, but a victim mentality has become culturally fashionable these days. It seems like there is more of the mentality than there are victims. Pride wants to be the victim, not because it’s self-deprecating, but self-worshiping.
Pastors, perhaps you’ve felt sorry for yourselves at times. Someone had a bigger church or bigger salary. You have the harder church and the slimier Diotrephes. Others, we have the harder trial; the tighter finances; the tougher relationship. And it may be the case. But feeling sorry for ourselves has got to be off-limits. Whatever the case, humility steers away from this upside-down pride.
Hard stuff happens and will happen this year. It’s a blessing when there’s another to weep. But, let us beware. Fight against feeling sorry for yourself. Slay self-pity. That will help our humility over this next year.
- Stop talking about what bothers you so much.
There are times to sound the alarm. But dispense it more with an eyedropper, and less with a dumptruck. And don’t make yourself the reference point. Things might be bothersome, but it matters little if it bothers you.
God hasn’t asked you to be the spokesperson for your pushed buttons. He hasn’t even asked us to have buttons.
Beware of appointing yourself as the “this-bothers-me-so-I’m-gonna-tell-you-about-how-I’m-bothered” social media warrior. Focus more on being a warrior against the dirty dishes in your house and the remaining sin in your heart. It’ll help with humility. Speaking of which…
- If you have to be offended, be offended at the log in your eye.
Taking offense has become a fad. If you’re good enough at it, you can boost your self-actualization and your Twitter ratings.
Let’s step back from social media, angry news, and our own, perhaps, hair-trigger emotions at times. And in our own relationships, let’s ask, “Do I need to be offended at what so-and-so said?”, and, “Why am I irked?” At times, it’s possible that we want to be offended.
- Welcome some correction into your life.
Few practices further humility like this one. However, it’s amazing how seldom so many of us embrace it, and yet consider ourselves mature in the faith. When was the last time we asked someone close to us one or two ways we could grow in christlikeness? Our spouse? Our parents? Our roommate? Our pastor? Fellow church-leaders?
If we’re reluctant to welcome correction, let’s ask ourselves, “Why?” What’s the worst thing that would happen?
If we did this even a couple times in 2018, we would turn some of those spiritual corners we’ve been wanting to turn. But if we will not do this, then we certainly should not consider ourselves mature in the faith.
- Cultivate a stronger prayer life.
Assuming you’re praying to God, every moment of prayer is an act of humility. It’s an act of self-abandonment in exchange for recognition, reliance, dependence, and neediness before Almighty God. There are few nobler postures that exist.
If you’re not in the habit, pray for more than the people you like. Pray for that hard person in your church. Pray for someone you hardly know. Pray for that guy who gets on your nerves. “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2).
- Serve for a long time in your local church.
God’s wonderful plan for your life begins with getting into a biblically sound, New Testament local church. Become a member. Open up your life. Ask what the needs are and how you can meet them. Then, try serving at least all year, quietly, faithfully, and without missing your responsibility. And try doing so without needing recognition. If it’s difficult and boring at times, then you’re probably right where you need to be. When it gets hard, pray, ask for prayer, memorize verses on perseverance, and meditate on how Jesus persevered for you.
I wonder about some of the self-proclaimed discernment and advocate warriors in social media world. How are they honoring God by visibly and regularly serving under their elders in a New Testament local church? In what way are they faithfully fulfilling their role as a body part in their local body?
Spend more time humbly serving in your local church than boisterously thumping your chest about social issues on the internet.
- Try something you’re not good at.
Consider trying something new. Ask some people in your church, who are good at something, if they will teach you. Embrace it when that standoffish guy schools you in the church basketball game. Go target shooting with that difficult guy and welcome it (without shooting him) when he chortles at how bad of a marksman you are.
- Stay tethered to the cross.
The cross is the resting place for those of us who have a long, long way to go in humility. We can repent of feeling sorry for ourselves when Jesus was the ultimate victim in our place. We can mature out of being so bothered when we recall that God took the hit for what bothered him the most. When we understand that we deserve to burn in hell forever, our offended tank empties. We can welcome correction in our life since God has already made a violent display on the cross of how bad our sin really is. And since we stand in grace, seeing our sin never threatens our righteous standing. Prayer is a privilege to a God who treats us as his own Son. Knowing that Christ died for his church motivates us gladly to enduring commitment in our local church, even in things like the children’s ministry. Since we have the very righteous standing in Christ, we can mellow out and be the ignoramus in the group.
We’ll never master humility this side of heaven. But as we embrace a few tangible steps here and there, by God’s grace, we will make gains in this virtue of virtues to the glory of God.
Source: The Cripplegate | Eric Davis