Humility is not something we are very good at.
This photo is framed and hangs (for one more day anyway) directly above my desk. It has 1 Peter 5:5 as its caption. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Without going into extreme detail or getting overly theological, there is one part of that which stands out to me today for whatever reason.
The phrase “gives grace to the humble” strikes me as part of this verse I have never really dwelled on before. This is one of the verses where most of the common translations use the same wording. A couple of exceptions:
- The New Living Translation & Good News Translation “shows favor”
- The Message Paraphrase “But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for – God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people.”
The Greek word for grace here is, of course, ‘charis’ which is where we derive our word charity. Here is a copy of the definition for this word from The New Testament Greek Lexicon: “good will, loving-kindness, favor: of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, creases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”
This is a gift from God to those who are humble, down-to-earth, unassuming to self. Humility is not self-defacement, nor is it self-hatred. Those are not of God. Jesus clearly told us that we are to love our “neighbors as ourselves.” We can’t love our neighbors very well if we hate ourselves. The Bible also tells us we are created in the image of God and that He formed us in the womb. To deface , despise, or hate ourselves is to hate that which God intentionally made in His image. No, humility is not any of this.
Humility is simply having a realistic view of our humanity and knowing that life is all about God. That is slightly oversimplified, but true. Humility is knowing that others are important to God. Humility is the understanding that God knows what He is doing and His will is perfect. To be humble is to want God to receive all the credit for everything good in life. It means we simply and politely say “Thank you” to a compliment or gift. It causes us to seek success in the things of God for others. It removes personal ambition for the spotlight or prestige. A humble person is one who is focused on the purposes and Kingdom of God.
That person receives God’s gift of grace kindling them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. Simply put, as we serve Him in humility, He gives us what we need that makes it easier and more natural to serve Him in humility and effectiveness.