Recently at theREMIX Tuesday evening Bible study group, I asked the question, “On a HUMILITY SCALE of 1 to 10, where would you rank yourself? (10 - being the very heart of Christ, and 1 – being Satan’s rebellion)”
I wish I had a camera to capture the looks on their faces.
No one attempted to give a response. They all just stared at me with an incredulous look, as if saying, “Dude, how in the world are we supposed to answer that question without sounding like jerks?!?”
I tried rephrasing it to lure them in, “Okay fine. What if a close friend of yours were to rank you on this scale, where would they place you?”
More Silence. More awkward stares.
I understood that what I was asking was a lose-lose question. If you scored yourself lower than a 4, you’d sound like you were feigning humility. If you scored yourself higher than a five, that would defeat your point because a humble person wouldn’t view their humility through the lens of greatness. Besides, who in their right Jesus-minds would ever say, “I’m so incredibly humble that I’m at a 7 right now…. Possibly a 9?”
After allowing everyone to squirm for a few moments (and finally admitting that it was indeed an impossible question), I referred everyone back to the Biblical text we were reading in Philippians 2:3-4 and asked a simpler question.
“What does humility look like?”
This time, a few people jumped in. One guy (who’d been quiet the whole evening) gave a response so insightful, the whole group broke into a dramatic applause when he was done. He said humility was first seeking to understand the other person’s point of view rather than just seeking to be understood. I “yes’d and Amen’d”, and “Dag dude! That’s deep” his response, then turned to the apostle Paul’s words to flesh out what true humility looks like.
First off, we clarified what gets in the way of humility in our lives.
So earlier in verse 3-4, Paul instructs Christians [that’s you] to do nothing out of “rivalry” or “selfish ambition”, (wanting to do better than everyone else simply for the sake of being better than everyone else). He also instructs us to do nothing out of “vain conceit”, (getting angry and upset when others win, or in some cases, rejoicing when they fail). Instead we are told, “…with humility of mind [we are to] regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Here is what humility is not. Humility has nothing to do with having a low view of one’s self. In the words of someone smart (whose name I don’t recall), “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it is thinking less about yourself” [and more about the needs and interest of others].
That’s the point in verse 3-4. Humility at it’s finest is others-focused. It is putting the interests and well being of others before yours.
Consider the example of Jesus Christ, “[who], though 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! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Christ is our perfect example of humility.
I haven’t been to heaven yet, but I hear it’s the spot! So I can imagine it was a little rough for Jesus to give up all that blinged-out-kingdom, to come live in our little-ole-rusty planet.
But Christ came anyway! In so doing, He put our interest before His (see what I did there? Humility = looking out for interest of others… see it?). Even better still, Christ came and paid a great debt we owed God, then blazed a trail we could now follow to return back to the heart of our Father in heaven. Talk about looking out for a bro!
So to sum up, humility has nothing to do with how lowly I am, but everything to do with how I serve the needs of others around me.
And with that, we ended our Bible study and ate pasta!
→ → TALKBACK: Who is the most humble person you know? What quality about their life stirs in your a desire to live likewise?
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.