Five Minute Humility in Three Easy Steps - Part 4
What does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love loyalty, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8.
If pride is an improper focus on ourselves that makes us insensitive to God and others, then humility is a proper or accurate view of ourselves.
Humility is a proper, realistic view of ourselves in relation to God (dependent creatures) and others (servant), that allows us to enthusiastically embrace God’s sovereign will (obedience) and focus on serving others’ needs (without thought of our temporal loss or benefit), resulting in deepened intimacy and blessing.
IV. To Develop Christlike Humility
A. Mindset Lk 1:51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
We change our heart with a value shift Mk 7:22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
STEP ONE: We must view ourselves as servants of God and others (Phil 2)
We are on this planet for God’s glory and the benefit of others, not the gratification of our unsanctified desires for power, pleasure and possessions.
B. Humility requires an Act of the Will Js 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
1Pt 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
Choice to clothe Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
Humility goes with submission 1Pt 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
STEP TWO: We must actively surrender and submit to God in obedience, and submit to others in service
It’s not about us, but about God’s will, revealed in Scripture for us to obey. (1Thess 4)
C. Humility requires Actions of Submission and Service
Humility requires getting off the throne 2Chr 7:14 "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The humble correct their mistakes Pr 6:3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; ...Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend.
Don’t set the record straight Titus 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
Real humility is victorious against the flesh because of true submission and dependence on God Col 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility...intruding into things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
STEP THREE: When tempted to crawl back onto the throne of our lives, see Steps one and two.
Praying for our needs deepens our dependence on God. Praying for others’ benefit/blessings deepens our humility
Js 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world----the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life----is not of the Father but is of the world.
When we choose to serve we can’t complain about consequences He permits. Our trust must be in God, not His protection
Acts 20:19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;
2Tim 2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth
With whom do we hang? Those who boost our frail worth, or those whose worth we can build? Rom 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. What words or images do you associate with “humility”? Who is someone you know who is humble? What qualities make him/her humble?
2. Where are you being called to be obedient in your life? What makes it hard to be obedient, to listen and respond?
3. What are the aspects of your life that keep you from deeper humility? How will you work on changing those aspects of yourself?
4. How would you describe your purpose in life? What do your actions of the past week reveal about your commitment to that purpose?
5. How many of our words are calculated to boost our worth and value in the eyes of others, rather than edifying them or glorifying God?
A Sermon from St. Benedict-The Twelve Steps to Humility
Holy Scripture proclaims to us brothers: "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Lk 14:11). Pa 131 tells us that all self-exaltation is a form of pride
131. The first step of humility is taken when a man obeys all of God’s commandments-never ignoring them, and fearing God in his heart. He must constantly remember that those who fear God will find eternal life while those who scorn Him will be cast into Hell. He must continually guard himself against all sins of body and spirit, and deny himself the fleshly lusts.
132. He should know that God sees him always. No matter where he is, everything he does is reported to God by the angels. The prophet proves this when he says that God is ever present in our thoughts. Let the prudent monk-so that he may avoid evil thoughts-always say in his heart: "Then I shall be spotless before Him, if I shall keep myself from my iniquity" (Ps 18:23).
133. We are forbidden to do our own will for we are to "Leave (our) own will and desires" (Eccl 18:30), and "... beg the Lord in prayer that His will may be done in us" (Mt 6:10).
Thus we learn not to do our own will for Scripture warns us: "There are ways that seem right to men, but they lead, in the end, to the depths of hell" (Prv 16:25). We must fear what was said of the careless, "They have been corrupted and made abominable in their desires" (Ps 14:1). And we must believe God is present even in our bodily desires, for, as the prophet says, "Lord, all my desire is before You" (Ps 38:9).
134. Thus we must guard against these evil desires, for death is near the doorway to pleasure. As Scripture commands us, "Chase not after your lusts" (Eccl 18:30). Therefore, if "The Lord sees both good and evil" (Pv 15:3), if He is always searching out the sons of men to find those who dwell on or seek God, and if our every move is made known to Him by the angels assigned to us-then, brothers, we must always be on the lookout, as the prophet warns us in the psalm. Let us fear that the Lord may say to us in the future, "Thus have you done, and I have been silent," if He should see us falling into evil ways and becoming useless-even though He may spare us for a while, because He is honorable and waits for us to reform.
135. The second step of humility is reached when a man, not loving his own will, does not bother to please himself, but follows the injunction of the Lord: "I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me" (Jn 6:38). It is also said that "self-will has its punishment, necessity its crown" (Acta Martyrum).
136. The third step of humility is attained when a man, from love of God obediently submits to a superior in imitation of the Lord. As the apostle says, "He was made obedient unto death" (Phil 2:8).
137. The fourth step of humility is reached when a man, in obedience, patiently and quietly puts up with everything inflicted upon him. Whether these are painful, unjust or even against his nature, he neither tires nor gives up, for the Scripture says, "Only he who perseveres to the end shall be saved" (Mt 10:22) and "Let your heart be comforted, and expect the Lord" (Ps 27:14). To show that the faithful must suffer all, no matter what, for the Lord’s sake, the psalmist says, "For you we suffer death all day long; we are considered as sheep for the slaughter" (Ps 44:22). Secure in the hope of Divine reward they rejoice, "But in all things we overcome by the help of Him Who has loved us" (Rom 8:37). ...
138. The fifth step of humility is achieved when a monk, by humble confession, discloses to his abbot all the evil thoughts in his heart and evil acts he has carried out. The Scripture tells us to do this: "Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps 37:5). Also, "Confess to the Lord because He is good, because His mercy endures forever" (Ps 106:1). ...
For most of us this dilemma of letting God be the center of our lives is simply part of the continuing struggle of our spiritual life, a very gradual process of letting go of control bit by bit into God’s hands. For Benedict, though, giving up “self-will” was something that could be done through the practice of obedience. We all need help, we need to trust someone who has the spiritual maturity to help us see beyond our blind spots. In Benedict’s community this meant obedience, following the judgment and directives of the abbot or prioress and the provisions of the Rule.
This process of humility begins with a constant awareness that we are in the presence of God. We are not entities unto ourselves, hiding the actions or parts of ourselves that we don’t like and don’t want known. Instead we are always in the presence of the God who knows our actions and our hearts, our gifts and our failings. With this constant mindfulness of God’s presence, it is harder to hide behind our illusions. In the presence of other people we can hide our anger, our impatience, our deceitfulness. We can pretend to be something we are not. But Benedict reminds us we cannot hide our hearts from God.
This begins to force us into a radical honesty. Before God we are who we are, no more and no less. We can no longer deny our failings nor take credit for our gifts. This is the beginning of humility. We are no longer the center of our own private little universe. The process of humility makes us abdicate our thrones; we are no longer the king or queen of our personal realm. We need to cede that position to God.
Benedict describes someone who has achieved humility as someone who is a person for others. The humble person does not complain about difficult circumstances or tasks but takes them in stride and learns from them. He or she is not afraid to admit faults and transgressions but does so without defensiveness or excessive justification. The humble monastic follows the common desires and decisions of the community without second-guessing or complaining.
Clearly humility is the fruit and result of a transformed heart. When our hearts are rooted and grounded in the center that is Christ, the soil of our heart will bear this fruit of deep humility and love for God and others.
Twelve Ways To Humble Yourself
To truly repent, or put off pride also requires that we embrace, or put on humility. As James 4:10 states, "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you.." The following is a list of twelve suggestions I have gleaned from others on how to humble yourself. As you will see, most of them are basics of our Christian faith.
1. Routinely confess your sin to God. (Lk 18:9-14) 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 examination. Weekly, even daily, review of our heart and behavior, coupled with confession to God, is an essential practice of humility.
2. Acknowledge your sin to others. (Js 3:2, 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.
3. Take wrong patiently. (1Pt 3:8-17) 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.
4. Actively submit to authority...the good and the bad! (1Pt 2:18) Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed as authorities in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.
5. Receive correction and feedback from others graciously. (Pr 10:17, 12:1) 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?"
6. Accept a lowly place. (Pr 25:6,7) If you find yourself wanting to sit at the head table, wanting others to recognize your contribution or become offended when others are honored or chosen, then pride is present. Purpose to support others being recognized, rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place; it is the place of humility.
7. Purposely associate with people of lower state than you. (Lk 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 status or wealth.
8. Choose to serve others. (Phil 1:1, 2 Cor 4:5, Mt 23:11) When we serve others, we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God instead of the Kingdom of self. When serving another costs us nothing, we should question whether or not it is really servanthood.
9. Be quick to forgive. (Mt 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 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.
10. Cultivate a grateful heart. (1Thess 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.
11. Purpose to speak well of others. (Eph 4:31-32) Saying negative things about others puts them "one down" and us "one up"...a form of pride. Speaking well of others edifies them and builds them up instead of us. Make sure, however, that what you say is not intended as flattery.
12. Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross. (Luke 9:23) It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to self and living through Him is the foundation for true humility.