God honors humility (1 Peter 5:5). While we know it’s a good and necessary virtue to pursue, some folks think of it solely in terms of a quiet, passive personality. That’s inaccurate. Here are three truths to help us better understand this character quality God wishes to see in us.
- Humility requires strength of character.
Inaccurate thinking suggests that humility is spineless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus emptied Himself of all His rights and then died a criminal’s death despite doing nothing wrong (Philippians 2:5-8). He could have squelched the injustice any time He chose, but courage and strength combined with love for the Father and mankind motivated Him to lay His life down willingly. Courageous—yes. Filled with inner strength—yes. Spineless—absolutely not.
We demonstrate humility when we refuse to rush into self-defense mode when someone hurts us. Instead, we pray for God to help us see that person through His eyes and then make ourselves available to serve when it’s needed and appropriate.
We also demonstrate humility when we allow someone else to take credit for something we’ve done. Our human bent wants the praise to fall where praise is due, but humility doesn’t need public accolades because it knows God ultimately doles out the rewards.
- Humility requires teachability.
Our human bent thinks our way of thinking or doing things is the best or only way. Humility admits another’s way might be as good or better. It accepts correction and responds appropriately whereas pride considers itself above the need to change, learn, and grow.
I’m saddened when new writers show me their works-in-progress and insist they ought to be published as is. I can relate to their passion; I felt the same about my writing at the start of my career, but I had to undergo an attitude revision.
In 1999, at my first writers conference, an editor used her red pen to butcher the first two devotionals I’d ever written. I sat across the table from her and muffled horrified gasps. Then she asked for a third. Moments after she began reading it, she shook her head and said, “Grace—this is awful. I want you to go home, read the comments I made on the others, and rewrite using my suggestions.” I swallowed my pride and heeded her advice.
I also heeded the advice of another editor who said, “It’s my job to make you shine. Submit your manuscript and then get out of the way so I can do my job.” Apart from teachability, my writing would never have been published.
In what area of your life might you benefit from being teachable?
- Humility requires understanding our God-given identity.
Jesus knelt and washed His disciples’ filthy feet, a task normally done by the lowliest household servant (John 13:1-17). He performed it without a qualm because He had nothing to prove and no need to impress (John 13:1,3).
Knowing to Whom we belong and understanding His purpose for us frees us from insecurity and pride. We feel no need to portray an image meant to impress. Therefore, we gladly do the dirty work unhindered by the fear of losing status, respect, or authority in others’ eyes.
What are your thoughts about humility? What lessons in humility have you learned along life’s way?