Be Humble / Be Humbled
I have been praying for myself in the area of humility for about six months. I have never considered myself a very proud man or that I think in prideful ways. But as with all things we tend to go toward extremes. The reason I have never viewed myself as prideful is because of how I think pride looks. A guy with a puffed up chest bragging about all they have accomplished and gloating over those less accomplished. That, my friends, is an extreme example of pride. In fact, the pride each of us face on a daily basis likely looks nothing like the extreme examples we often think of. It’s the little thought you have when you want to correct someone, even when it’s not necessary. It’s the protective measures you employ so that no one can hurt you. It’s even in the anxiety you feel when you don’t have control of a situation and can’t trust God. Pride is subversive and sneaky. I would dare say it’s the least addressed inner life issue of all mankind even though the scriptures deal with it over and over again. Pride is behind so much of what we do, don't do, say, live out, love, invest in and think. It’s humanity's fuel source for almost every endeavor. Once my view of pride snapped into alignment, I felt a deep urge to pray for humility. Now, before I unpack this, I want to be clear about humility. It, like all other attributes of Christ-likeness, is a choice. You choose humility just as Jesus chose it.
"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:8 ESV
The text says, "he humbled himself." It was a choice. We must always remember that Jesus is ALL GOD, in fact, that is what Philippians 2 is about. Jesus is God and became a man and was killed by men. THIS IS HUMILITY. God let himself be killed by people he made. That is insane if you take a second to feel that out! We see Jesus choosing humility as a model for us. James 4:10 says, "humble yourself..." Here again, it's a choice you make. Something that you must decide to put on, like putting on a garment.
As I’ve prayed about humility and the awareness of my heart during moments in which I chose humility, one thing is clear—You can “be humble” or you can “be humbled.” You can choose humility or it can be forced on you. Scripture reiterates this many times. In fact, James 4:10 is simply James quoting Psalms and Proverbs, "God opposes the proud." This can be seen with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, with Pharaoh, King Ahab, and King Xerxes. But it's not just those that have overwhelming prideful exploits, but also those of us in whom are hearts are engulfed with pride as well. God gives us an option, humble yourself or be humbled. God knows the only way humanity will thrive is under His Kingdom care, which is derived from humility. When James encourages the churches to humble themselves, it's an invite to a more rich and satisfying life in Christ. Whether we are doing it outwardly in our words and actions or secretly in our hearts and thoughts, pride will create opposition from God. If Jesus, fully God, embraced humility and chose it as a way of life, then it stands to reason that God would be against any other way of living—He expects humility. He expects you and I to humble ourselves as a response to how he has humbly come and loved, served and given himself for us. But if we don't humble ourselves, then we face humbling that comes not of choice but of God's opposition. Don't get it twisted. God loves you, so much in fact that he will place moments in your life to bring you to a place of humility. My thought is, if God is giving us a choice, I want to be humble rather than be humbled.