Every once in a while, I think God decides that one of His children needs an extra dose of humility. I recently experienced one of those times on a visit with family for the holidays. Over the course of just a couple of days I was thrown from a horse, got beat at video games by various 9-10 year olds and fell asleep during a late-night football game that my 80 year old Grandma stayed up until 3:00am to finish. To top off the weekend, a dear older lady from my parent’s church greeted me with everyone’s favorite term of endearment: “hey fatty.” Ouch! Needless to say, it was not my finest hour.
Truthfully, I laughed it all off at the moment. However, as I considered these events later, I was reminded of this statement I heard at a conference once: “God’s Plan A for your life is humility; His Plan B is humiliation.” God desires for his children to humble themselves, to choose humility. That is His plan and desire for us, but He will humble us when we refuse that plan.
I’m not saying there was anything specific that I was feeling prideful or arrogant about, nor am I saying definitively that God orchestrated those events as some sort of punishment. The weekend just got me thinking about humility and our need to humble ourselves before God. Pride is so natural to our flesh that we must regularly and intentionally seek to destroy it in our lives. We must not approach it casually or passively. Here are some thoughts on pride that might help you as you seek to humble yourself before God.
- Assume you are prideful. One mistake many Christians make is to assume they are generally humble and occasionally pride sneaks in, though the opposite is actually true. Our flesh is consumed by pride and we must work by God’s grace to be humble.
- Ask God to show you your pride. Remember, it is not a question of if you are prideful, but of how pride manifests itself in your life. Prayerfully ask God to search your heart, as the psalmist says, and to show you where there might be any pride.
- Use humiliating circumstances as an evaluative tool. The way you respond to humiliation – whether it’s being passed over for a promotion you thought was yours or just being called fatty by a little old lady – can tell you a lot about whether or not you are humble. They can also remind you to search your heart for pride that might be there in case God is trying to use those moments to teach you a lesson.
- Practice humility. Humility is not natural. There is a reason God says to humble ourselves – we aren’t humble by accident. We have to work at it. Find ways to make yourself small. Volunteer for the most thankless position. Do something anonymously for someone. Go last. Find ways in your daily life to practice humility and it will slowly become more natural to you.
- Concentrate on pride’s most frequent manifestation in your life. I don’t think that we will ever be totally free of the sin of pride while we are still entangled with our flesh in this life, but God can and will give us victory in specific areas. More than likely, you have a specific circumstance that triggers pride or a specific issue that you are prideful about. Focus on eliminating that area first, with God’s help.
- Don’t let failure discourage you. In all likelihood you will fail in some area of pride at some point in your life. Confess it and move on. Don’t give up on humility. Just prayerfully start over asking the Spirit to help you be humble.
Every human will have their struggles with pride, but it is the responsibility of God’s children to seek humility. Though this is contrary to our nature, it is not without its reward. James 4:10 says if you “humble yourselves before the Lord … He will exalt you.” When we prefer others, act humbly and forsake pride we are figuratively placing ourselves in the lowliest of positions at God’s feet, as a peasant groveling before a king. Our Great King, however, does not look down on us for our lowliness. Instead, He reaches down and gently lifts us up to stand before Him in exaltation. His plan for us to humble ourselves is not so that we will be humiliated before Him, but so that we can be exalted in the proper manner at the proper time. It is only through humility that we can fully honor God and be honored by Him.
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