Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
(Matthew chapter 5, verses 5-9, KJV)
Humility allows us to be respectful of others. It drives out arrogance, boastfulness, vanity and aggressiveness. Instead of saying "Me first", humility allows us to say "No, you first." Humility is what lets us go all the way to meet the needs of others, instead of doing a half-way job.
Humility is a major theme in both the Old and New Testaments. Qualities such as courtesy, patience and deference (all aspects of humility) have such a prominence in God's Word because a demeanour of humility is exactly what is needed in order to live a life in peace with people no matter their race, religion, sexuality, gender, or economic status. Humility allows us to see the importance and worth of all of God's people.
Acting with humility does not in any way whatsoever deny our own self worth. After all, having a low opinion of one's self is not humility, it is self destruction. Humility instead affirms the worth of every single person on the planet. True humility comes from a place of recognising your own worth. Recognising that you are loved by the Most High, that God see the potential inside you to become who He has separated you to become.
We must maintain an attitude of deference toward God, and other people. Did Jesus not say that the most important commandment is to love God, and the second being love others as ourselves? As servants of God, we are called to respect all of God's creation — most importantly, people.
We will gain more from being humble than we will sacrifice. It comes with the knowledge that God's creation and divine plan as a whole transcends our own narrow interests. Living in humility means to put God and people before our own selfish interests.
"Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honour and life." (Proverbs chapter 22, verse 4, NIV)
"The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Matthew chapter 23, verses 11-12, NIV)
The Golden Rule
Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons (and daughters) of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
(Luke 6 verses 31-35, NIV)
The Golden Rule, spoken by Jesus, is one of the best known and possibly one of the most quoted excerpts from the Bible. It contains a lot of wisdom in one short sentence. We must first give love to others, we must first respect others and we must first share generously with others. Even those we dislike or even despise, or who despise us.
Words make or break relationships
Friendships, marriages, working relationships are all affected by the words we speak. Words can make war or bring peace. The words we say have tremendous power, and can be used for good or evil. They can build people up or tear people down. We should consider our words a weapon, and as with any weapon, we must be careful with them.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly." (Proverbs chapter 15, verses 1-2, NIV)
"An evil man sows strife; gossip separates the best of friends." (Proverbs chapter 16, verse 28, TLB)
Friendships and marriages are dissolved over angry words. Resentments divide families. Prejudice pits race against race and religion against religion. Greed puts enmity between rich and poor. Wars are waged over arrogant assertions. Reputations are destroyed by gossip. Gossip can be defined as an act of hostility aimed to harm someone's reputation. We absolutely must avoid the temptation to misrepresent someone's character or actions as an act of revenge or prejudice.
As stated earlier, humility does away with all of this. Humility is the sure way to live a life enriched by the joy it is to love others, and to see them grow into who you know they can become.
Self-righteousness is one of the hardest sins to avoid. This is because it is usually so much easier to see the faults of other people than to see our own. Rather than looking for faults in others, we should be looking for the good in them, finding the reason that God loves and believes in them, and building them up, while doing the same with ourselves, and drawing out our own faults.
Jesus' parable of a person with a log in their eye trying to remove the speck in another's reminds us that we have our own faults to recognise and correct (including self-righteousness).
Don't criticize, and then you won't be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them. And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, 'Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,' when you can't even see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother.
(Matthew chapter 7, verses 1-5, TL)
We are reminded that judgement is reserved for God, and God alone, and we should not focus on correcting the faults of others.
With humility, we acknowledge that God has created us for his purposes and certainly not for our own self-gratification.
With humility we acknowledge the dignity of all God's people. With humility we cool the anger and prejudice of others.
With humility we can turn our enemies into our friends.
Humility is what allows us to be affable and at peace with God, people, and ourselves.
First published September 9, 2013
Lehi is a youth worker at Zeal Youth Centre in Wellington, NZ, and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He loves painting, writing bad poetry, and doing life in the company of people with big hearts.
Lehi Duncan's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lehi-duncan.html