God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). I want grace. I need grace. I must have grace so I can walk in the overcoming victory Christ won for me. That means I must first be humble. So I’ve been contemplating the concept of humility and asking God for some revelation: when does it come to me, where does it come from, and what does it look like?
I have heard humility defined as ‘strength (power) under submission’. Usually, whenever someone hears that, He nods his head in a wise and solemn gesture of agreement. Well, maybe I’m the only one, but I confess I just don’t get it. Somewhere in the phrase I intuit a profound truth. But I still don’t understand how to be, well…humble.
I realize, because I’ve heard it taught, that humility does not come out of my own effort. God says the important things are not from might or from power, but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6). Humility is one of those elusive slippery things you can’t ever be as long as you’re thinking about it. It seems that the harder you chase it, the faster it runs.
Humility is an obstinate quality that begins to appear as we forget about it and pursue something else. So what should I pursue, if all I can think about is how to achieve humility? It’s a puzzle that has tied my mind in knots.
Obviously I must go to the source. If I am to pattern myself after Jesus, then I need to examine how He was on this Earth.
“I am meek and lowly in heart…” (Mt. 11:29). Or, in modern language, “I am gentle and humble…”. Jesus sheds some light on this quality of being when He explains that He came to do the will of the Father; that the words He spoke were not His own.
I find, after I delve past the miracles, that Jesus was a man completely sold out and given over; a man who put the things of God before Himself. He didn’t collect snow globes. He didn’t take two weeks every year to go on a cruise, or to the ski slopes, or to the deer woods. His favorite TV shows didn’t dictate His weekly schedule. (I’m not impugning those things…just illustrating a point.)
Jesus was a man of such strength and resolution and character that people were diverted from their errands and drawn to Him. He was filled with one desire: to serve humanity in the will of, and through the power of, the Father.
Jesus’ great ability was under submission because He gave up His rights, His fleshly desires and urges, His human will to do things differently…all those things were surrendered to the Father.
This subjection was a choice He made. It’s a choice I can make, moment by moment: to be so focused on the Word and Will of God that every part of me and my life and my activities reflect Him. As I make that choice, focused solely on God rather than on my ambition to be something (or, in the case of humility, to not be something), then my own desires become less fierce. The will of God can take root and grow in me.
Pretty soon, satisfying Him is more important than indulging myself. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone; I don’t need to enforce my rights to be treated a certain way.
I begin to recognize it really is all about Him. I am invaded by a great and intense yearning to know Him better, to be more like Him. At that moment, when I have completely forgotten about me, that’s when humility blossoms on that bare branch within me.
It’s my choice whether or not the blossom is like the Century Plant flower, opening for one brief moment in the entire 100 year life-span, or like that of the ever-flowering wild rose, loaded with blossoms all season long.