Jesus came as the suffering, humble servant. God understood that humility is one of the traits that gets the attention of the human race. As we give away deeds of humility, we bring a similar influence into the world. As we allow Jesus to love others through us, we will find great joy in serving.
Jesus’ lowly estate threw a curve ball to religious leaders of his day. They expected him to appear as victorious Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Of course, Jesus is coming the second time, in manifest power and authority; but he came the first time in humility. Today it seems little has changed. While we look high and low for effective approaches that will touch the world around us, with God’s love, the most obvious one is often overlooked. Doing humble acts of service causes the world to notice our lives and to listen to our message.
When you volunteer your time to your community or to help other people, God is mindful of you. God lightens your load when you take on someone else’s load. If you think that you are weighted down, help someone else. Above all else, resist pride. Proverbs 6:16-19: These six things the Lord doth hate; yea seven are an abomination to him. A proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies and he that soweth discord among brethren. Our hats go off to the many wonderful people that volunteer in our community and churches. Relay for Life, which helps the American Cancer Society, people that volunteer in the Senior Patrol, the hospital’s Senior Circle, the Boy Scout, Girl Scout and 4H leaders. We have some wonderful dentists and assistants who are volunteering their time, equipment and building to help provide low-cost services to people that are in pain. A lot of the time the Lord inspires good people to act as his ‘angels’ in ministering to the needs of others. Sometimes the volunteer work that people do may be a humble job. Don’t let that stop you from helping someone or the community.
We need to be humble for God to work through us. We are nothing without Jesus. You can never become so perfect that you can fight the adversary on your own. It is the authority invested through Jesus that we are able to do the things that we do for God. Perhaps you have heard the story of the man who received recognition for being the humblest man in the church? They gave him a pin to wear, then the following Sunday he wore it and they took it away from him for being proud. One wonders sometimes if humility is like this. As soon as we think that we are humble, we are not. Perhaps the best way to understand humility is attempting to see ourselves through God’s eyes rather than our own. Humility is not denying the power or gifting you have, but admitting that the gifting is from God and the power comes through you and not from you.
After World War II Winston Churchill humbly commented that “I was not the Lion, but it fell to me to give the Lions roar.” To truly repent or to put off pride also requires that we embrace, or put on humility. James 4:10 states: Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you. The following is a list of 12 suggestions on how to humble yourself, most of them are basics of our Christian Faith:
• Routinely confess your sins to God. Romans 3:23: All of us sin and fall short of the Glory of God. However, too few of us have a routine practice of rigorous self-honesty examinations. Weekly, even daily, review of our heart and behavior, coupled with confession to God, is an essential practice of humility.
• Acknowledge your sins to others. James 5:16 — Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility before man. A true test of our willingness to humble ourselves is being willing to share with others the weaknesses we confess to God. Wisdom, however, dictates that we do so with others that we trust.
• Take wrong patiently. 1 Peter 3:8-17 — This can be a difficult one. When something is unjust, I want to react and rectify it. However, patiently responding to the unjust accusations and actions of others demonstrates our strength of Godly character and provides an opportunity to put on humility.
• Actively submit to authority … the good and the bad. 1 Peter 2:18 — Our culture does not value submissions; rather, it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.
• Receive correction and feedback from others graciously. Proverbs 10;17, 12:1 — If you receive negative feedback, simply share that with me. I will pray about it and get back to you. Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?
• Accept a lowly place. Proverbs 25:6-7 and Luke 14:8- 11 — If you find yourself wanting to sit at the head of the table, wanting others to recognize your contribution or become offended when others are honored or chosen, then pride is present. Propose to support others being recognized, rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place, it is the place of humility.
• Purposely associate with people of lower state than you. Luke 7:36-39 — Jesus was derided by the pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with wealth and status.
• Choose to serve others. Philippians 1:1-2, Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11 — When we serve others we are serving God’s purpose in their lives. Doing so builds the kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of self.
• Be quick to forgive. Matthew 18:21-35 — Forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest acts of humility we can do. To forgive is to acknowledge a wrong that has been done to us and also to further release our right of repayment for the wrong. Forgiveness is denial of self. Forgiveness is not insisting on our way and our justice.
• Cultivate a grateful heart. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — The more we develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift of salvation and life he has given us, the more true our perspective of self. A grateful heart is a humble heart.
• Speak well of others. Ephesians 4:31-32.
• Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing Jesus. It is our nature to be proud, and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. The last thing that I will mention is to remember that we are not saved by works, serving others lightens our load. We are saved by Grace, asking Jesus into our hearts to guide our lives and repenting of our sins. John 10:9 — Jesus said: I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.
Janet Peterson is associate pastor for the Cowboy Christian Fellowship in Tooele. She has lived in Tooele County for several decades and entered the minstry desiring to help those who are struggling.