by Jayna Coppedge
“…And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6 (HCBS)
Almost the same words as James 4:6, 10.
Far Eastern cultures, such as the Chinese, value humility, submission and deferring individual preferences to those of the community. My Western culture encourages pride, dominance and insisting on one’s rights, therefore the idea of putting on humility is “foreign” to me. Fortunately, God provides me with not only motivation to be humble, receiving His grace and praise, but also some clear examples of how pride affected people’s lives.
Thinking I already know everything, is pride.
Peter is a great example. To paraphrase Matthew 26:31-35, after celebrating the final Passover before His crucifixion, Jesus predicts that the disciples will scatter. Giving them encouragement, He says, “I will see you in Galilee after I am raised.” Peter argues, “Jesus, you don’t know what you are talking about. Sure, maybe the others will run, but not me. I would rather die than deny you.” Prideful Peter really thought he knew himself better than Jesus knew him. Of course, his egotism led to his humiliation of denying Jesus three times. I have also been guilty of thinking I know more than God.
I shudder at my arrogance.
Judging others as not as good as me, is pride.
In Numbers 12, Aaron and Miriam are jealous of their little brother, Moses. Miriam says, “It looks like everyone has forgotten that God speaks through us too. If he was so holy, he would not have married that Ethiopian woman.” Promptly God curses Miriam with leprosy, causing her isolation. Numbers 12:3 explains Moses was the most humble man on earth.
I cannot imagine being as exalted as Moses is, to have face-to-face conversations with God, nor to be as shamed as Miriam was to be publicly reprimanded by God. Humiliated to near death, Miriam learned the penalty of slandering God’s servant. God was gracious in that when He answered Moses’ prayer to heal her, she had seven days as an exile to recover from her mortification. God reminds me of this lesson when I am critical of church and biological family.
Grabbing the best for myself, is pride.
In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus teaches in a parable. “When you arrive at a banquet, always take the least prestigious seat. This prevents the awkwardness of being removed from the seat of privilege. Also, you might be honored by being ushered to a position closer to the host.” He sums it up by saying, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Trusting God rather than my abilities, is humility.
Paul faced a dilemma. He could have plunged into self-pity: “It is not fair that I have to endure being beaten, jailed, misunderstood, and on top of that, I have to endure a tormentor” , or he could have accepted that God knew what was best for him.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 (NIV)
Jesus obedience, even when it meant death, is humility.
I fight being selfish. The Holy Spirit often reminds me that my purpose in life is to reflect God’s glory. God graciously leads me to passages that illustrate Jesus’ humble actions.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:3-8 (NIV)
Attitudes of thankfulness,
dependence on God,
recognition of our sinful state, and
obedience to God
provide the cloth to create a garment of humility.
The coat of humility protects us from the harmful effects of pride.
Do you agree that the Western culture discourages humility?
We all experience impatience, anger, resentment, envy, and greed when we become prideful. What are the ways you use to adjust your attitude?
Choosing to believe God and not leaning on her own understanding is a continuous battle for Jayna.
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