Be Humble and Kind
Probing Your Own Heart
Are you humble?
How do you prioritize God’s invitation to you?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Self-exaltation leads to shame.
The surest way down is pushing myself up. The surest way to shame is glorifying myself. Jesus illustrates both of these precepts in both of the life lessons He presented. We see these precepts clearly enough in His first parable; they are a little more hidden in His second lesson. Notice that the first batch of invitees exalted themselves above the inviter by refusing his invitation. They glorified themselves by heeding their own preferences rather than his invitation. Whether the self-exaltation shown was open or disguised, shame came just the same.
Let someone else judge your importance.
We are poor judges of our own importance. One reason is we tend to lack objectivity about ourselves. Another is that importance is so subjective and difficult to measure, varying as it does from situation to situation. For these and other reasons, we show wisdom by not presuming on our own importance. Again, both accounts presented by Jesus reveal this truth: The proper person to determine your importance is not you.
Life requires prioritizing.
Prioritizing requires attending to some things at the expense of other things. The individuals in Jesus’ second illustration had other concerns and duties that legitimately required their attention. But those concerns and duties should have taken second place to that particular supper invitation. Our lives require prioritizing as well. “One thing have I desired of the LORD…” (Psalm 27:4). “But seek ye first…” (Matthew 6:33). “But one thing is needful…” (Luke 10:42).
Questions and Responses
Can I know that I am humble?
Humility is not a hidden virtue or an invisible fruit. Even so, a simple question — Are you humble? — makes us uncomfortable and squeamish. Answer “yes” and someone will almost hand you a scarlet “P” to pin on your forehead (the “P” to identify you as PROUD and the pin to deflate your swelled head). Answer “no” and you openly acknowledge your disobedience to Scriptures such as Matthew 23:12, Colossians 3:12, James 4:10, and 1 Peter 5:5.
Most of us seem to take for granted that the truly humble live blissfully unaware of their humility. Perhaps we do not understand humility. Far too many have a mystical view of humility — they see it as something intangible, nebulous, obscure. That is not so! Humility is extremely visible, definable, and tangible. Humility is not an abstract concept, it is a very concrete reality!
Humility is not thinking poorly of yourself. “I’m no good” or “She’s a better seamstress than I” do not illustrate humility. “I’m all thumbs when it comes to singing” may be a great example of a mixed metaphor but not of an humble spirit. Humility recognizes one’s value, abilities, and accomplishments.
Humility is choosing others first. Humility is the choice to not live a self-focused life. Humility is choosing to be consumed with and by the well-being of others. Humility is making the above choices when my position, abilities, rights, and power all entitle and enable me to put myself first.
“Put on therefore . . . humbleness of mind” (Colossians 3:12) and “Be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5) both call into question the idea that humility is some mystical grace undetectable by those who possess it. I believe an humble person can recognize his own humility without immediately losing it for having done so. (Just don’t go around trumpeting your humility. That’s playing in the key of mi, which isn’t humility at all.)
How do I get my priorities straightened out?
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).