What Does It Mean to Be Humble?

Dear readers,

This is an article that I say God gave me, a few years ago. I believe this was shared with my DW family at the time. And if any of you are reading this right now, I truly miss and love you guys. We may not have known it then, but overall it was such an incredible and blessed time for all of us… Yet, we keep pressing forward.

Anyway, I decided to dig through my portfolio for this article this morning, because every now and then we need to remind ourselves of who and whose we are … And before I share it, understand that this was inspired only by my own introspection. Yet I hope you will gain something from it.

Here it is…

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2

Humility is probably one of the most misunderstood spiritual concepts. Unfortunately, we often see it as a behavior one must exhibit, rather than allowing ourselves to be genuinely transformed, and to do the sometimes bold work of a humble servant, through wisdom and grace.

So, what does it mean to be humble?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines humility as “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people.” This means that humility is not so much an action, but more-so a belief. However, not to be mistaken for low self-esteem. In fact, sometimes we tend to use “humility” to shrink into others’ low expectations of us and to under-utilize our gifts and talents. We even sometimes go as far as to use “humility” as a weapon to condemn and even persecute others. Truthfully, we all have been guilty of at least one, if not all of these in some way or another.

You see, what I am learning in my own life and walk with Christ, is that it is virtually impossible to truly serve in humility without knowing and loving who we are in Christ.  A humble man walks in love and so he has the peace of God which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and he also turns the other cheek when someone strikes him (Matthew 5:39); not because he sees himself as unworthy, but because he knows who he is and where his strength lies.

Humility is actually a very complex virtue; for although it is an inner attribute, which we bear in love, sometimes the work of a humble servant does call for an outward boldness or act of bravery. The Apostle Paul addresses this complexity in 2 Corinthians 10:1-13 (KJV) – the contrast between the meekness and gentleness of Christ and the boldness of his (Paul’s) message, as a servant of Christ:

 

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you…For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

There are therefore times when we have to stand boldly not in our own strength or in comparison to others; but in the truth of who God says we are.

So, what does it mean to be humble?

The Bible tells us that being humble basically means valuing others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). And this is really a ministry we learn to live out in our daily lives.

However, let’s take a moment to also consider this… If Nelson Mandela did not tap into this truth which valued others above himself, to boldly fight and not “shrink” to the lowly expectations of  his people, then Apartheid would probably still exist in South Africa today. If Rosa Parks hadn’t bravely placed herself in that seat in the front of the bus, reserved only for whites, then blacks would probably still be riding in the back of the bus today. Rev. Martin Luther King actually asserted in his memoir, “Stride Toward Freedom,” that the true meaning of the Montgomery boycott, provoked by Parks’ act of bravery, was “to be the power of a growing self-respect to animate the struggle for civil rights.”

So basically, if all the men and women in history chose not to tap into this truth, and to use it to fight for the self-respect and liberty of themselves and others; but instead, made the choice to “shrink” to the lowly expectations of their time, then where exactly would we all be today?

 

 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – Galatians 5:13

 

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