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Humility - More than Extra Credit


Humility - More than extra credit

Many who claim to be Christian live lives indiscernible from those who are not Christian. One reason is that they have by tradition or doctrine come to see the Christian life as one of meeting some criteria for salvation, and once assured that their ultimate destination is heaven, they can relax and get on with their regular lives. Occasionally some will attempt to “do good” or “be nice” as this is considered appropriate for Christians.

The characteristic of humility is more than the optional extra many think. It is a state by which a Christian can receive extra grace (James 4:6), the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), and be exalted by God (Matthew 23:12).

To understand humility, it may be helpful to first consider what it is not. Some feel that what is often called “false humility" such as the expression of self-deprecating comments such as “I am no good”, or “Nobody likes me” are an approximation of humility. However, these are often manipulative statements designed to acquire attention or solicit affirming comment.

Real humility is not an achievement. It is not gained or advanced by effort, skill, discipline, or study. It is the result of the understanding gained in the pursuit of truth. As one grows in understanding some of the majesty and greatness of God and at the same time comes to understand some of the depth of our own sinfulness, a growing awareness of this truth produces a humility that is genuine.

The Christian frequently fails to follow a path of humility for two main reasons. First, he may think that if he has avoided pride, he may, by default, be considered humble. He may picture in his mind a character from TV or the movies who represents the qualities of braggart, prideful, and arrogant and he can assure himself that since he is not like that, he is doing OK. However, humility is more than just the absence of excessive pride.

The second problem is our internal measurement system. Ever since grade school we are immersed in a mental construct that defines acceptability as consistency with the group. As long as we are like everyone else, we are OK. The problem is that the Christian is not supposed to be conformed to the world. We are to “measure” ourselves by the standard of Jesus, and to this we all fall short. The path to humility begins with rejecting the idea that as long as we are like everyone else, we have succeeded.

Humility, like love and faith, is hindered by self. The more we are invested in our ambitions, desires, plans, and goals and the more we trust in our skills, resources, accomplishments, and connections, the less able we are to relinquish that which ties us to the world system. The bible tells us that even being a “friend” of the world makes us an enemy of God (James 4:4).

2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.


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