Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you. (James 4:6 NASB).
Humility may be one of the most sought-after virtues in the Bible, but possibly the least achieved. We know it when we see it, but it is difficult to define. It is one of the Christian graces that if you try to pursue it, you may distance yourself from it. You cannot choreograph humility into the script of your life. God has to facilitate the process. If you are trying to get it through self-effort, the accomplishment negates the desired result.
Long ago, the famous preacher, Harry Ironside, from Moody Bible Church, worried that he was not as humble as he ought to be. He asked a friend what he should do. The friend counseled him to make a sandwich board with the plan of salvation in Scripture written on it and walk around the busy shopping district of downtown Chicago for an entire day. Ironside thought this would be a humbling experience, so he walked around the Windy City, spouting Scriptures along the way. When he finally returned to his apartment, he thought about how humbling his excursion had been and was feeling pretty good about the experience. As he was removing his sign, he caught himself thinking, “There is not another person in Chicago that would be willing to do a thing like that.” Humility is a contradiction in terms. When you feel like you are closest to achieving it, you are farthest from possessing it. When you realize how far you have to go in acquiring it, you are actually closer to having it. Meekness is a virtue that if gotten through your self-effort, can make you proud of your humility. It is a grace that we must continually pursue, but recognize that we can never entirely grasp.
Billy Graham, arguably the greatest preacher of the modern era, might teach us something about humility. On one occasion, someone stole his Bible. He told someone, “I can’t see why someone would want it, it had my name printed right on it.” He was clueless about the fact that a Bible with his name on it, was the very reason someone would want to steal it. Pride always gives us an elevated sense of self-importance. Humility keeps our life in perspective. Over the years, people have studied the preaching of Billy Graham, his style, content, and structure. Many have tried to emulate these, with not near the success as he has had. Could it be that the secret of his success is not the mechanics of his preaching but a less apparent reason, humility, that God always honors in a person’s life?
In God’s Kingdom, the way up is always down. In the world, you can usurp authority, but in ministry, conceit impedes your progress. Pride is just an incorrect view of who you are in relation to who God is. Accurately compare yourself with God and the only reasonable response will be humility. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing