Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Humility (and How I Attained It)

The above photo comes from a humbling experience in my life. I was probably about eight years old. That Halloween my costume was a homemade Batman outfit. The only problem with this was that my best friend also dressed up as Batman - and his was purchased from a store. The primary material of my costume appears to have been some sort of heavy-duty plastic. Although my boots and cape were cool, that mask left a little to be desired. Sadly, my friend's Batman getup was much sleeker and superherolike.

The trick-or-treating started off well enough. However, the fun times ended rather quickly. As we waited at a certain house, a college-aged male opened the door. We said, "Trick-or treat." What he then said is forever seared into my memory. He yelled to someone else, and I quote, "Look! It's Batman and Fatman!" Based on our costumes, we all knew who "Fatman" was. I was crushed and humbled. I can't remember what happened after that.

The next year we went to a store for my costume.

The "Fatman incident" was a sort of forced-humbling. In fact, I suppose it was more of a humiliation. Regardless, it was not a positive experience for me. It was not constructive and was not done in love.

Today, many years later, as I think back on this episode, it does make me think of something we all need: more humility. Humility is sorely lacking in most of our lives. Despite what this post's title says, I have not even come close to attaining it. In fact, I'm far more prideful than I want to admit. I'm probably more prideful than I even allow myself to think about.

As Christians, we benefit a great deal from pondering our sinfulness and God's holiness. We are far worse than we think and He is far better than we think. Although we say we depend on the grace of God for all things, we actually look to ourselves for quite a bit. Why is this? I think the reason is that deep down we really don't think we are all that bad.

The reality is that apart from the grace of God, we would be spiritually dead. The only reason we can do anything that is worth anything is by the grace of God. In light of this, we must be people of humility.

Since we see so few humble people, where can we look for an example? We must, as always, look to Jesus Christ. In one of my favorite passages of scripture, we see Jesus' humility in full view. Philippians 2:5-11 says:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The scriptures exhort us to humility:

Proverbs 15:33 - The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.

Colossians 3:12 - Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.

The world notices the church when we act like Jesus. We may be hated for this, but in the end the world has a hard time rejecting sacrificial love. May we be people of humility like our Lord Jesus. This honors Him. May we be people who seek to put others first. May we be people who are willing to humbly sacrifice everything for the cause of the gospel. The gospel will spread far more effectively through humble, loving action than it will through carefully crafted apologetic arguments.

May we be humble to honor Christ. May we be humble to build up the church. May we be humble to win the lost.


Aussie John said...


Good article! I'm reminded of the fact that the truly humble never recognize it in themselves.

A young man used to come to our Bible studies. His regular prayer was,"Lord. Thank you for making me so humble".

Eric said...


Wow - did he really say that?

Humility is difficult. It certainly is refreshing to see it in others. I wonder if we can ever accurately see it in ourselves.

Aussie John said...


He really did!He also carried a small suitcase of commentaries into every study, studiously ignoring everyone else while he read his books.

I have come to the conclusion that, as soon as we think we can see humility in ourselves, we have failed the test.