I was listening to a podcast yesterday, as humble as can be, when I was forced to admit that I really didn't understand humility. The previously recorded lesson from the high school minister at my church (yes, I listen to sessions for the youth group because this guy can PREACH), was actually about Living for Jesus - not humility. And yet God showed me what He wanted me to see. I LOVE it when He does that.
I heard the words of Philippians 2:3. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;" Now, for the sake of my point, I'm going to ignore the first 4 words. I mean, who can successfully do NOTHING from selfishness. I think it would be safe to say that unselfishness will take a lifetime of practicing for all of us. (At least I don't think it's just me). But looking at the rest of the verse, I believe I could humbly say that I've got this humility thing in the bag! I mean, there isn't a conceited bone in my body. All that and a bag of chips? How about the 5 bags of chips I have eaten this week while supposedly on a diet (I mean, "healthy lifestyle plan"). And how about when I yelled at my daughter this morning. And how about the messiness of some of my relationships? If I should brag about anything, it might be that I am the world's BEST at dissing myself. I have no delusions of grandeur. It's an extremely rare occurrence when I EVER compare myself to someone else and declare that I am the winner! That just doesn't happen. So I'm feeling OK about this whole "humility thing". Moving on to verse 4 of Philippians Chapter 2. "do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." Huh. That doesn't seem so tough. I intercede for others in prayer. I do a LOT for my kids. I try to pick out thoughtful gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I volunteer at church and in the community. I do my best to attend to my husband's needs. And the verse doesn't say I CAN'T look out for me. It just says I have to INCLUDE others. I was feeling pretty good about this as well, UNTIL...
God challenged me to put that passage to the test by combining the two ideas from those verses. So the way I read verse 3 was, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another's interests as more important than your own." What if I didn't just CONSIDER the interests of my friends, family and acquaintances, but prioritized them above me own. Whoa. It just got real up in here. That commandment just went from somewhat vague to very specific. Now, please hear me say that I don't believe for a second that God's Word needs to be altered. And even if it did, I am certainly not qualified. But I simply felt, in that moment, God nudging me to dig deeper into what "regarding one another as more important than yourselves" really means. To take the concept of "humility" and put legs to it. I mean, I enjoy meeting the needs of others - when it's not TOO inconvenient for me. When it fits in my schedule. But, what would it look like if I not only THOUGHT you were more important than me, but put actions behind it? Praying for a friend's crisis could take priority over those few extra minutes of sleep in the morning. Reading a book with my child might delay catching up with the latest episode of Downton Abby (that one stung a little to type). I could save the money I use to get my nails done and help sponsor a missionary or a child thru Compassion Intl. I wouldn't hesitate to cook a meal for an injured friend - even if it meant an extra trip to the grocery store this week. Humility might start to look like changing plans, rearranging schedules or even rebudgeting (is that a word?).
How much more would I look like Jesus if what I want truly became secondary to what others want? What kind of love would the world see? It is blowing my mind to think about it.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Col 3:12 NIV (All other references are from the NASB)