There is no lack of evidence that humility is not a widely cherished or practiced human trait. It is not so surprising really, since true humility requires the acknowledgement of who and what God is. As God is marginalized in a society I would expect the virtue of humility to also reside on the margins. As evidenced in a recent obituary (with name changed following) even some of the most basic assumptions in life are now challenged due to the radical autonomy we feel is owed to us. The obit began: “Joe Bloggs chose to die with dignity after realizing that cancer was one of the few battles he would not be able to win.” Such is the state of our culture that even the “giveness” of ones gender, or in this case life span, is open to challenge.
In contrast, Peter exhorts believers to “Humble yourselves … under the mighty hand of God. (1 Peter 5:5-7)” As we continue our series on 1 Peter, lets consider how our new life in Christ is to be marked by humility. In the aforementioned passage we are given three ways to walk in humility: “you who are younger, be subject to the elders”, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another”, and “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Many of you have a personal style that is recognizable to the rest of us, which is fine, but all of us ought to be recognizable by the clothing of humility! It ought to be one of the defining characteristics of our Christian belief.
Peter gives the best reason to humble ourselves: God “opposes the proud”. Just a quick word to the wise – you don’t want God to oppose you! Moreover, he “gives grace to the humble” and who amongst us couldn’t use more of God’s grace.
How do you recognize pride and welcome humility? Pride, at its core, is the striving for God’s position. It shows up as self-centredness: the tendency toward self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-promotion, and self-satisfaction. Humility, at its core, is the recognition of our reliance upon God. Our church staff recently read through CJ Mahaney’s, Humility, True Greatness, which I highly commend. He closes his book (pp 171-172) with a list of suggestions to weaken pride and cultivate humility:
- Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ.
As each day begins:
- Acknowledge your dependence upon God
- Express gratefulness to God
- Practice the disciplines of prayer, Word, and worship
- Memorize and meditate upon scripture
- Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you
As each day ends:
- Transfer all glory to God
- Receive the gift of sleep
For special focus:
- Study the attributes of God
- Study the doctrines of grace
- Study the doctrine of sin
- Play golf as much as possible (hope Linda reads this)
- Laugh often, and laugh at yourself (Linda now hoping I am reading this!)
- Identify evidences of grace in others
- Encourage and serve others
- Invite and pursue correction
- Respond humbly to trials.
Mission Action Prayer: Lord, by your grace, help me this day to trust you; casting all of my cares, and submitting all of my desires to you.