Sunday, July 09, 2006

Humbled by the Thought

If asked to name someone who exemplifies true humility, who would you choose? Let’s say Jesus is off limits, because, frankly, He’s off the charts when it comes to humility. Name a contemporary. Famous or infamous.

Having a hard time? Mother Teresa came to mind, but she’s no longer a contemporary.

Why is humility such a radically obscure concept in today’s world? Why is it so foreign a thought that we struggle to think of a single living example? And how will we ever teach it to our children and grandchildren if we can’t point to someone and say, “See? Like that!”

Someone once described humility as “allowing others to shine.” I think of movies that give insight into life with “royals.” A subject of the kingdom might bow before the king or queen and say, “I am your humble servant.” In essence, the servant is expressing his devotion to do everything in his power to make sure the king shines, to find pleasure not in establishing a name for himself but for his king, to respond not to his own needs but the king’s.

Humility in its purest form is seeking to exalt another, not ourselves.

In Proverbs 3:34 and again in James 4:6, the Bible tells us that “God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.”

Shows favor? Who would not want God’s favor to shine on us?

What does humility look like at the office? Not scrambling to make it abundantly clear that I did the bulk of the work on that successful project. Not fighting for recognition or promotion. Not searching for subtle ways to sabotage someone else’s career path for the sake of my own.

What does humility look like at home? Seeking each other’s happiness above our own. Respecting my mate or my mate’s decision, even when I know without doubt that I was right. Setting aside the natural bent toward self-serving.

What does it look like at church? Cheering for God’s pet projects, even if they’re not my own. Loving the kind of people Jesus died to save, even if that doesn’t come naturally to me. Serving without thought of recognition or reward.


In James 4:10, we’re told “When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him, He will lift you up and give you honor.”

Does that mean that if I just humble myself, my day will come? The promotion for which I was passed over will one day be mine?

When I heard that verse quoted in church this morning, I left the building for a minute…mentally. I pictured standing before the Lord in His throne room. I kneel before Him and mumble something that sounds like, “I am Your humble servant.”

I’m on my face before Him with renewed understanding of who He is in all His majesty and power…and who I am with majesty and power to the negative ten!

And then, He steps down from His throne and stands over where I am bowed, puts His finger under my chin, and lifts my head. With love and gratitude in His eyes, He places His hands under my arms and brings me to my feet. “Come here,” He says, pointing to a velvet chair beside His throne. “Let’s talk.”

“There?” I ask, incredulous that the King of the Universe could possibly mean to have addressed me.

“Would you rather sit on My lap?” He asks.

And then I know how He responds to my humble surrender to Him. He lifts me up and gives me honor. Not because I deserve it, but because He does. So I let Him shine.

Because His light illumines the room I’m in.



Julie Dearyan said...

loved your thoughts, Cynthia. So powerful and so true.

eileen said...

Bless you for your insights that you share!