In a world of connectivity and quick communication, it can be hard for us to take time to be reminded of the things that matter. It is difficult sometimes to remember that it is permissible and possible for us to think in nuanced ways which take time to explore. It is strange that the easiest answers can be spelled out and listed with alliteration yet we fail to do even these. Or worse, we find that once they’re done often we have the empty shell of something resembling that which we wish we sill had. To think in terms of continuums and lifespan isn’t practical enough in today’s world but nevertheless, that’s gonna be the gist here but please don’t X out of this tab.
We all have moments of clarity which we cannot attribute to ourselves. In the retelling of such moments, they become sensationalized events. This is not exclusive to clarity but is also true for humility and a host of other topics. I want to address one such phenomenon in our understanding or at least one of the most popular explanations of humility.
The saying that humility is not thinking less of oneself but rather thinking of oneself less falls short in my sight. If we take a long haul perspective, we will see that the most arrogant of us (which if we are humble or rather just truthful, should be us) has moments of humility. I think this clever saying is more a defining of one of the byproducts of humility. I don’t want to nitpick and play with words. So if you think I’m going to say it’s prideful to try to define the term; I aren’t.
I think it is helpful to have clever sayings that stick and sometimes comes back and prick us right in the heart. Here’s some of my idea of a robust concept.
Humility is the never-ending, always-increasing awareness of our finiteness before the never-leaving infinite God which produces a zeal for the glory of God such that thoughts, words, and ultimately actions are aimed at seeing more of this glory.
I am trying to describe a life seeking to be lived for the glory of God in every passing moment. The perspective of such a person is longing to to see future in that light and even to be able view the past through such a lens. This may sound an awful lot like discipleship to some. I wouldn’t disagree. While, they can’t necessarily be used interchangeably; there’s a lot of overlap. You can’t subject yourself to the Lordship of Jesus without being humble. You can’t humble yourself enough to submit to His lordship. Both take his empowering presence.
Sometimes being humble isn’t thinking or acting or speaking on another’s’ behalf at all. Sometimes this disposition (a bowed one) has got so little to do with people that it produces the greatest result for them. If Jesus didn’t consider equality with the father a thing to be grasped, what are we doing trying to grasp for humility as though it were a seat at the table?
An act of humility should have the glow of revelation. It can be seen in the monuments of our lives, in the mental Ebenezers we construct. We should look for those moments when we have witnessed the the power of the Holy Spirit enabling us to show humility. Our reflections should be similar to biblical examples.
A broken bottle with shards of glass
on the ground
and stains of nard on His gown,
or it may be reminiscent of the reflection
in the bowl of dirty foot water
with the accompanying towel
painted by the footprints
of every one of those served,
their unique prints formed by the
collections of dust from each path, on the earth.
Jesus was full of compassion. He is our example. We don’t see him moment by moment placing himself beneath others or at the end of the concern hierarchy. He was so God-centered that He did everything by direction. How does the follower of Jesus do this? According to John 17, Jesus prays we have this exact same union.
We so undervalue prayer and relationship but this is how it all works. Life in Christ is Spirit-led. I know we want something more for our minds to gnaw on, at least I do. Perhaps, this meandering will eat away at our hardness of heart like an acid.
We see Jesus living life fluidly and being poured out. Poured out. This is humility. It is also kingly. It is chivalrous.
Perspective is at once everything and nothing. When we recognize our limits it is helpful. When we pay heed to our motives it needs to be out of gratitude that we acknowledge such a need. And it a great thing to do.
If our mind is set to programming itself into something that only a living organic relationship with Jesus can produce, we have a paradox on our hands. We have tied ourselves to a cart and then tried to push it from the back. We must take on his yoke which is rest and let him lead us and all our life contains in its finite cart, like a real casket and lead it from the front, the way He sees fit. Let’s not juxtapose a quality against a backdrop but rather open the door and sup with Him; He’s knocking.
See your coffin or urn as a cup turned upside down and live under direction, humility will be the upsplash.