“Humility is the freedom to stop trying to be what we’re not,
or pretending to be what we’re not, and accepting our “appropriate smallness.”
― John Ortberg Jr., The Life You've Always Wanted
Wrestling with the sin of pride is a part of our broken humanity. When pride has its way in us, we are merely a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. It causes us to be reactive, to get easily offended, to feel a need to defend or avenge ourselves, and to be critical of others. That is just a sampling of the many negative effects of pride. Pride, as author Max Lucado says, “stiffens the knee so it will not kneel, harden the heart so it will not admit to sin. Pride is the hidden reef that shipwrecks the soul.” It shipwrecks our soul because God opposes the proud.
The humble heart, however, is eager to do what pride will not. The humble heart is quick to seek God’s help, grace and strength. God gives grace to the humble because the humble are hungry for grace.
In 1 Samuel 25, we see a beautiful picture of humility in a woman named Abigail. Her husband Nabal is a man full of pride who insults David by not honoring a small request that David makes of him after performing a valuable service. (1 Samuel 25:7-11) Not only did pride get the best of Nabal, but David was offended at Nabal’s harsh remarks, and in a moment of emotional hijacking, David decides to take matters into his own hands as he plans to kill not only Nabal, but every male associated with him as well. (1 Samuel 13:21-22) When Abigail is made aware of the situation, she sends David and his men some provisions and then rides out to meet them. Upon arriving, Abigail gets off the donkey she is riding and bows down to the ground asking that any guilt of her husband be upon her instead. Her humility diffuses the grim situation. It is the very thing that keeps David from sinning by taking matters into his own hands. It also saves the lives of many men.
That is what humility does. It diffuses bombs! The apostle Peter tells us to clothe ourselves with humility. Why? Because humility leads us to be responsive rather than reactive when things do not go our way. It makes us less offendable, reminds us to trust God for any avenging our lives require; it draws us closer to God, makes us better listeners, leaders, and allows the light of Jesus to shine through us. Putting on humility is simply putting on our “appropriate smallness.” It allows God to be God ... and allows us to simply reflect His goodness to a broken and hurting world.
One of Jesus’ irresistible qualities is that of humility. Philippians 2 encourages us as His followers to imitate His humility with these words: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus wants His light to shine through us. (Matthew 25:14-16) So, if we are going to be lighthouses of Jesus’ light, we must choose humility. We must put on our “appropriate smallness.” Instead of pride telling us to say, “Me first,” let’s shine the light of Jesus in humility by saying, “No, you first” with our lives.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.