Humility is probably the most important quality that is realized in a close relationship with God. In surrendering our own agendas, our preferences, our cultural biases, our assumptions and our ways to God, we are left with our own poverty, our own lack of knowledge of God, our own small selves.
Walking with the Lord in a deep relationship means we follow His path and walk in His ways, certainly not in our own very human ones. We don’t call attention to ourselves. We know that we are like one star in the sky or a speck of sand on the beach, one of billions. And we know that we are not one bit better than any other person on this planet.
Jesus said quite a bit the lack of humility, especially in Matthew 23 where he railed against the hubris of the Pharisees who, in everything, were trying to look much better than they were. Just for example, in verse 3, he said, “So you must be careful to do everything they [the Pharisees] tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” It is the lack of integrity, the wish to look good without being good, that he rails against. We would find none of this in any person who has encountered God at a deep level. In fact, one way to state all that we have to give up in deepening the relationship with God is our lack of humility, our I-centeredness.
Humility is not self-abasement; rather it is the acknowledgement that we are just little creatures in a vast universe that was created by an utterly awesome God. Interestingly, we have an importance in the scheme of things: it is important that we help bring in the kingdom of God here on earth. But it is not an inflated importance; it’s just important that we participate in the kingdom.
In the Beatitudes Jesus celebrates the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted. Surely these are the humble of our times and his. But they are not whom the world celebrates or even pays attention to. Humble people are often overlooked, ignored, and rejected. And these are the people that God will give the kingdom to, will comfort, will hand the earth to, will fill, will show mercy to, will show himself to, will call the children of God.[Matthew 5:3-11]
Humility is not a cloak we put on to cover what we really think or who we really are; it comes from an acknowledgement that we are each just one of billions of people, all created in His image, who are God’s people. Humility is not a surface mask, but a profound realization of who we are before God.
True humility, also, is a result of an encounter with God, much as Job had in Chapters 38-41 of the Book of Job. God takes three books of Job to ask questions like these: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”[Job 38:4] “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?”[Job 38:12 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?”[Job 38:22] “Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?”[Job 39:19] “Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?”[Job 39:27]
God is talking to Job, who has held on to his beliefs in God even as he has lost everything. And there he stands before God and all His might and glory, before His creation; and Job replies:
“Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” [Job 42:3-6]
How can we count ourselves as important when we’ve come face to face with God’s power to heal, to have imagined and created this whole interdependent universe, to love and forgive us, to want me/us to partner with him in bringing love into this world? I think about this often: why me? How did I come to do God’s work, doing spiritual direction, writing this blog and the books? I’m just a very ordinary middle class woman. And yet, God has been in my life, and I am sure, in yours, even when I was totally unaware of his presence, still supporting, guiding, loving and more.
He was in the hell-fire-and-damnation church of my childhood; He was in my leaving the church and searching for a God I could love; He, when I look back on my life, was always there. Somehow, I was to journey through life exactly as I did. That’s amazing and certainly not on me. Even the writing I do belongs to Him. What I do is to listen to Him and do whatever he suggests. I am not trying to claim that I am a truly humble person, but at least I do know to Whom I belong.
Humility isn’t about debasing ourselves either. Surely, as God calls us to work for the furthering of His kingdom, it is essential that we do what we are called to do. But we hold that call in humility, in truth, no in any inflating who we are. Whether we are called to preach or to help another, no matter. Each of us is needed, essential even, and yet on a par with all the other workers of the Lord and even those who have not answered God’s call.
Questions to ponder over the week: How do I see myself in relationship with God? Do I see God clearly or am I just projecting on God the father-figure I think I deserve? Do I see myself without inflating my importance or degrading myself? Can I love who I am?
Blessing for the week: May we be the humble, truly humble people of God. May we fulfill our purpose and love our God with all of ourselves.
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.
I have an essay published in an anthology of writings by Christian authors, entitled “What Can We Learn About Suffering From the Exodus Story.” The book is entitled Let Hope Arise by Authors for Christ and is available on Amazon.
Go to www.bythewaters.net/blog/html. to check out the archives of all my posts going back to 2011.
I’ve posted links to all the videos I’ve done on my website and highlighted the best one(in my opinion): “On Eagle’s Wings.” Check it out at http://bythewaters.net/videos.php.