What is true humility?

what is true humility?

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How often, when I feel offended or hurt, would I be more at peace, if I were simply more humble?  That is the question that has been rolling around my head lately.  When I put away the thoughts of myself, about how I think I deserve to be treated, what do I have left to be offended about?  Not much.

There’s no avoiding this simple fact:  to be like Jesus is to practice humility.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”  Philippians 2:5-7

How do I put away thoughts of myself when I don’t like the way I’m treated?  I like how C.S. Lewis said it, in Mere Christianity,

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
— CS Lewis

I think this means that appropriate boundaries are okay, but that in thinking about myself less, I look upward instead of inward.  When I look up, to God, I see his grace, offered not only for me, but for all.  How can I accept God’s amazing grace for myself, and then not give it to others?  

I can trust that I’m not in control.  God is.  When I look to him, I don’t need to worry about, if, by practicing humility, I will not be protected.  I can rest in the knowledge that God is my protector and that he is a good.  He is perfect in love.  He gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud (Proverbs 3:34, 1 Peter 5:5).

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 14:11

Not only do I need to practice humility in my relationships with others, but also, I need to practice humility in how I relate to God.  Humility towards God means obedience towards his commands, it means remembering that I bring nothing towards my salvation, and that it’s all because of Jesus and the gospel that I enjoy a loving relationship with God.

Mother Theresa was one example of how to love with the love of Christ, through humility and service towards others.  In her book, The Joy in Loving:  A Guide to Daily Living, she outlined some practical ways to practice humility.  Here is what she wrote: 

These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of one’s self.

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity.

To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To choose always the hardest.
— Mother Theresa
what is true humility?  Mother Theresa quote

Practicing humility is a counter cultural act.  So often, the message we hear is to put ourselves first, or that our happiness is of the most importance.  This isn't the message of the Bible though.  As Christians, we're called to a life of humility.  I pray that by God’s grace, those of us who love Jesus will grow in humility, through obedience to his perfect will, and in doing so, bring glory to the One we love.