Two Sundays ago, I preached the introduction to our series on Philippians…Joy-Unity-Humility. I shared about how Paul is calling the Church to live through the progression of Humility, Unity, and Joy (click here to listen to the message).
The following morning, I got a message asking some questions. After hearing the message, this person had some questions. I like that someone wants to talk about what we are learning. I’ve always hoped that a dialogue might develop from our Sunday AM learning.
Here is part #2 of the questions & reflections on humility, and my responses…
Yesterday I understood your message to stay that humility is a practice we can carry out in our daily life that sort of permeates Jesus to others. I feel unsure of that when I ask myself what it means to be humble. Truly, I believe humility is a virtuous, and sometimes lost, practice that I myself I am not very good at. And maybe talking about humility as a “practice” is the wrong way to think about it anyway… but, I believe that the word “humility” isn’t exactly universally understood. I think that how others expect the practice of humility to look varies depending on who you are… demographically and otherwise.
For young white woman like myself…what should humility look like? I think certain people I know would expect a humble young white woman to be meek or even passive. I think a humble young white male would be expected to keep his pride at bay…but would not be expected to be meek or passive. And especially on MLKJ day… I think about how men and women who are black are expected to be humble. Maybe I am missing some key principle behind the word “humility”… it is very possible.
When it comes to humility, you make some great points! I think humility is more than just a practice. I believe humility must start as an attitude/state of being before it can be put into practice (but, to be complete it MUST be put into practice). I also agree that humility is absolutely not universally understood…we have countless misconceptions, misrepresentations, incorrect definitions, and terrible applications of it!
I think society puts different expectations on different people (race, social class, gender, etc) when it comes to the definition of humility. However, my belief is that the definition, attitude, and practice of humility is universal…it does not change with race, class, gender. The expectation and practice of humility is the same for everyone everywhere.
Jesus lived a life of humility in attitude and practice. He always sought out the will of the Father first, then the needs of others before His own (Love God and love others). Humility is a much bigger concept than meekness or passiveness or submission. In some senses, humility contains aspects of each, but also contains aspects of boldness, mission, vision, calling. A humble person knows that they belong to something much bigger than themselves. A humble Christian person can define that “something” and we can find a specific written example of what that is to look like in the life of Jesus – The living definition of humility. Because we know that we belong to something (someone) bigger than ourselves, we realize that we are here to do more than serve ourselves and our own interests, pleasures, and successes (the attitude of humility). When we look at the life of Christ and begin to apply our knowledge and understanding of humility (definition and attitude), we then put into practice a life of service to others…seeking the best FOR those around us rather than seeking the best FROM those around us (the practice of humility).
We do not use others to benefit ourselves, we offer ourselves to benefit others to help them see and become all that God has created and called them to be.
I do not think that God calls us to be passive or prideful…male, female, young, old, black, white, it doesn’t matter. Jesus was a radical who “raged against the machine” of oppression, guilt, shame, etc. of His time. He calls us to do the same and to follow Him in caring for those who are not able to care for themselves (widows and orphans, etc) and standing against those who used their “status” to further oppress. Jesus’ most harsh words were saved for the “religious leaders” of the time because they used their status to diminish others and raise themselves higher.
Jesus came to create a brand new order of things where those who claim to be leaders are to be the ones who are the servant of all.
Of all people, Jesus – Son of God – had every right to claim everything for Himself and to take from others, shame others, make others feel less-than. But, like I mentioned yesterday, He did not claim for Himself what was rightfully His…Jesus used the power of what was rightfully His to spread grace, forgiveness, compassion, love, mercy, and all that was good to those who did not “deserve” it. THAT is humility.
So, for me, humility means that I seek to equip and empower others to achieve their dreams and aspirations…even if that means that I may not achieve my own. In learning humility, I’ve realized that the dreams and aspirations that I have had for years might be the dreams and aspirations I am to instill into others so they are able to accomplish even more than I ever could have…so that they can BE disciples following after Christ and putting the amazing gifts, skills, talents, passion, and vision He has planted into THEM to much greater use than if I kept that to myself.
I hope some of that makes sense…