Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:10
What would you do if someone thought you to be proud, then told you to ~ ‘Humble yourself!’ Let me share with you what I used to think it meant. After feeling a profound sense of shame, I would set out to cast the pride out of my nature through self-condemning messages. I would rehearse my past experiences with others whom I experienced as proud and ask myself if I really wanted to be like them. The exercise would turn into a horizontal comparison game.
At that point, would I be humble? Absolutely not. I would have adopted a language of humility and a posture of meekness. Self-effort and corrective self-talk does not produce anything that results in Christlikeness.
If I’m honest and self-aware, I will quickly see that I want to respond in the flesh to situations that arise. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I’ll erupt with a ‘How dare you!’ If I’m criticized, I’ll defend myself. If I’m hurting, I’ll look for a counterfeit way out of pain.
Or, there is also another kind of response that is the enemy of humility. If asked to serve in the church, I’ll turn it down because I believe I can’t do anything well. When in a group, I will rarely engage because I believe I have nothing to offer. A distorted view of myself and an unwillingness to ‘define myself as God defines me’ is pride. Now, a retiring, fearful person can easily appear humble but having been one, I can tell you that I was not.
Today, any time I will let my guard down to react in the flesh, I will abdicate the opportunity to be like Jesus. Humility will be to admit that I don’t have it within myself to generate a Spirit-response to anything and to acknowledge my need for the Spirit and the Word to rule in my life. I will choose to live in momentary grace.
I couldn’t work hard enough to be saved. And I can’t work hard enough to be humble. All my self-effort was crucified with You. I was raised to new life by Your resurrection. Amen