The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Humility
The Way Up Is Down
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
It’s always tricky to talk about humility. How do you know when you’re truly humble? Come to think of it, if you are truly humble, will you even know it? Humility is the virtue which, when you think you have it, you’ve lost it.
It’s helpful to know that the Hebrew word for “proud” is related to the Hebrew word for “high.” In the Old Testament, it was used for high trees and high mountains. It was used to describe King Saul, who stood higher than anyone else in Israel. It was also used of God, who was said to be “on high” and whose thoughts are higher than the thoughts of man. We use the word in the same way when we say, “Get off your high horse, buster.”
We live in a culture that puts a very low value on humility. They don’t give out merit badges for humility. From the moment we enter the world we are urged to get ahead, to climb the ladder, to “look out for number one,” to win through intimidation, and to prove our success by the car we drive, the home we buy, the clothes we wear, and the friends we keep.
Humility in this context simply means that you don’t run the world, you don’t have all the answers, you know your limits. That last one is a hard one for some people- the idea that you have limits. It’s sort of a trendy, New Age-type idea to talk about unlimited potential and the untapped resources within. The truth is, our potential is very limited and the only untapped resources are the ones we discover when we come to the end and admit that we are limited but God is not.
What is humility? It’s having a right view of yourself because you have a right view of God. Humility does not mean saying, “I’m a nothing, I’m a worm, I’m useless.” That’s not humility; that’s self-pity, which is really another form of pride.
And what is pride? It’s having too large a view of yourself because you have too small a view of God. When your God is big, you will be small and pride will be impossible.
This is humility: “God made me and I belong to Him. Every good thing I have in life is a gift from the Almighty. Some have more, some have less. It matters not to me. I thank God for what I have, and I’m going to do the best I can with what God has given me, and I’m going to leave the outcome with Him.”
If we live that way, it will save us so much trouble. We won’t have to get into a power game at work or live in the rat race or sell our convictions to get ahead. We won’t get angry at the silly comments people make. Humility enables us to be who we are in Christ. And we won’t have to worry about what others think.
Humble me, Lord, lest I should think more of myself than I ought and block Your power in my life. Amen.
Name three people you would call humble. What qualities do they have in common?
Why is self-pity just another form of pride?
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