The Many Faces of Humility
The Many Faces of Humility
I don’t want to walk with the proud. But neither do I want to be counted among the humble. Humility has P. R. problems. Pride has done a good job ruining the reputation of its rival. Many of us cannot even think of humility without suspecting pride in disguise, or an unhealthy and self-defeating personality. Part of the problem seems to be that humility acts a lot like pride. Both show up at the same parties.Both have a closet full of disguises.
Both try to avoid detection. What is different, however, are their motives.While pride hides to avoid guilt and conviction, “H” stays in the background because of its concern for the joys and pains of others. With these differing motives in view, see if you recognize the following tactics and strategies of the “H” factor. Leading humility—While known for producing followers, the “H” factor can also produce leaders. Caring about the needs of others can be a strong motivation for taking the risks of leadership. Hating humility—While having a reputation for genuine love, humility also knows how to hate anything that threatens the well-being of others. Speaking humility—Sometimes seen as shy, humility will speak up quickly and loudly, even at its own expense, when it sees the interests of others at stake.
Defending humility—Often known for “turning the other cheek” in response to insults, humility can use physical force against an enemy if the situation calls for personal or national self-defense. Receiving humility—Known for giving sacrificially to meet the needs of others, humility also knows when to gratefully receive help and kindness.
Laughing humility—While humility knows when to cry, it spends a good deal of its time laughing with the joys of others and enjoying the favor of God. Urgent humility—More often than not, the “H” factor practices patience so as not to force its will on others. But sometimes, when conditions call for it, humility runs to the side of those who need help. Well-groomed humility—Humility has made a name for itself by knowing when to rip its clothes and wear the look of dustcloth and ashes. But more often than not, the “H” factor hides behind “normalcy” to avoid advertising its presence.
Discontented humility—Most people see humility as willing to be satisfied with what it has been given. But nothing is as dissatisfied as the “H” factor when it sees the needs of others being ignored. Nondeferring humility—Known for taking insults rather than repaying evil for evil, humility also knows when to stand up to threats if it is in the interests of others to do so. Unforgiving humility—Humility has a deserved reputation for giving to others out of the forgiveness that it has received. But the “H” factor also knows how to lovingly hold feet to the fire when there is a lack of repentance.
Questioning humility—In noted cases, the “H” factor does what it is told without asking questions. But it is not too proud to ask for clarification—or even for justification—when the needs of others seem to be at risk. Skeptical humility—Humility knows when to give others the benefit of the doubt. But on important occasions it knows when to lovingly and courageously disbelieve what it is hearing. Noncompliant humility—The “H” factor has a reputation for being cooperative.
But there are times when humility scorns the kind of pride that would comply with evil rather than risk the disapproval of others. Self-protective humility—Although humility doesn’t protect itself at the expense of others, it does know when to look after its own interests to avoid becoming burned out and useless to others. Self-helping humility—While self-help can be an arrogant way of rejecting the help of God and others, humility also knows when to educate and improve itself for the good of others. Successful humility—While the “H” factor doesn’t seek honor or success to put itself in the spotlight, humility is comfortable with recognition that is good for the general welfare.
Attention-seeking humility—Humility doesn’t call attention to itself for its own sake. But it knows when to pick up a towel, wash the feet of others, and say “follow my example.” Attention-seeking humility —Humility doesn’t call attention to itself for its own sake. But it knows when to pick up a towel, wash the feet of others, and say “follow my example.” Knowledge-seeking humility—While knowledge can give big heads to those who amass it (1 Corinthians 8:1), humility knows how to lovingly seek out information and truth for the sake of others. In each of these examples it should be clear that humility is not made out of appearances. On the contrary, the “H” factor is another way of looking at honest love.
When we genuinely care for the needs of others in the Spirit of Christ, pride is displaced by humility. There is no better description of humility than that described by the apostle Paul. While pointing his readers to the example of Christ, he wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . .” (Philippians 2:3-5).
Father, forgive us for being so disinterested in the attitude that brought Your Son from heaven to earth. We know You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. But we so easily revert to our own instincts. Please help us to love the kind of humility You love. Please enable us to adopt the kind of attitude that will help us to care for those who have an eternal place in Your heart.
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