Ajith, a famous Indian actor was spotted standing in line to vote. How many celebrities would do that? Wouldn’t they rather take advantage of their ‘privileges’ and jump the queue? This actor has set an example for humility.
Here in Sri Lanka, the first seat on the right side of the bus, right behind the driver is reserved for clergy. A member of clergy has the right to those seats. No disrespect to anyone, but it never fails to irk me when I see young muscular Buddhist monks clad in their bright orange robes expecting frail old ladies to give up this reserved seat. They exercise their rights! I wonder how many people in “high position” do not own a car and thus take public transport. Well, if they do, they are indeed demonstrating humility as one can’t tell their designations by merely looking at them, let alone show ‘rightful’ respect!
Isn’t humility an essential attribute of a spiritual leader? I’m glad that evangelical / charismatic Christian leaders don’t have a specific attire to identify them. It helps to mirror the humility of Jesus in this hierarchy driven world. Yet I do admit that people elevate priests & pastors and place them pretty much at par with God – which doesn’t reflect leadership as Jesus modelled.
When a teacher of the law came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go”. Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head”. Here is the Son of God having no place to rest His head. His love for people took priority. Whether it was to be used as an analogy or whether the meaning was at face value, it doesn’t matter – the fact remains that Jesus stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples. It takes humility to do that and it also takes humility to allow another to help! Jesus would go down from the mountains to meet with the people… and moreover Jesus left His place in heaven and came in flesh to be able to identify with people on earth, to reach out to them. This is demonstration of humility to the fullest!
In essence humility is about NOT claiming one’s right –
whether it be due to age, position, designation etc etc.
Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, “Everything they do is done for men to see; they make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them “Rabbi”… The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:5-12).
There is a big difference between humility and false humility. Pretending to be something we aren’t is hypocrisy – something God does not like. Matthew 23 lists occurrences whereby Jesus addresses hypocrites with “woe to you”. We are created in the image of God and thus we are special. Let’s appreciate that! God has given each of us specific talents and gifts – denying these attributes is denying God’s blessing. When we refuse to operate in the gifting that He has given us under the pretence of humility we are disobeying God’s calling for our lives.
Faith is being certain of what we do not see. We stick to what we believe and thus we do not waver. As the phrase goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything”. If we do not have a value system, if we don’t have God’s Word coupled with the grace of Christ and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will for sure fall.
A few quotations:
- “Humility is nothing but truth, while pride is nothing buy lying” – Vincent De Paul.
- “Humility is strong – not bold; quiet – not speechless; sure – not arrogant” – Estelle Smith.
- “Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
We need to be alert of the difference between false humility and humility. The former pretends to be what it is not, the latter gives in despite one’s rights… False humility is denying our capacities and potentials…Or it says that we are not good enough and thus elevates the other.
In humility we accept what we don’t know but that does not mean pretending not to know what we know or pretending to be doubtful.
We need to always be mindful of the fact that we are special as we are indeed created in God’s image. Putting ourselves down unreasonably is not recognising who we are in God and it reflects a heart that is not yielded to God.
- Where do you stand today?
- Are you exercising humility or false humility? If so, how?