Humility: The Master Key
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
When Adam and Eve rebelled, it was a sin of pride. The whispers of Satan wrapped around a knot of pride in their hearts, and wa-la - the Fall of Man. And ever since, pride has destroyed lives, good ideas, marriages, and even civilizations.
Biblical pride is thinking too highly of yourself and relying solely upon yourself as a result. It is thinking yourself to be God.
Humility is the antithesis of pride. But it is not the exact opposite. Humility for the Christian is judging ourselves rightly and relying upon God as a result.
Why Depravity Matters
The other day I heard a guy talking on a podcast. He had gone through a lot of life problems - all caused by him - that had affected his family. After years of counseling, he had en epiphany. He was perfect inside, he reasoned. Those foolish acts were not him, but rather were things he needed to learn from to refine himself down to the innate perfection within.
My heart breaks for this guy. You see, his conclusion simply isn't true. It's not in sync with the human experience and it certainly isn't in sync with Scripture. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 14:3 that there is no one who is righteous before God. As God surveys the landscape of humanity, no one is a shining example. No one has perfection inside.
We sin because we're sinners, not because we were tricked. Does the devil tempt? Yes, and he is quite adept at it. But he is only playing upon our sinful desires which already exist.
No one talks about this anymore. It's considered all hellfire and brimstone. The word "sin" is out of vogue. But it is fundamental. If you've lived for any time, you understand your propensity toward control, greed, and their parents: pride. Humility isn't aw shucks, it's "Oh dear God please help me!"
We will never be humble until we understand our own sinfulness.
The Foundation of Christian Virtue
Let's look at the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Consider each of these if you remove humility.
How will we love if we are hell-bent on control?
How will we find joy when we have created idols of ourselves, understanding we are impotent gods who cannot actually make things better?
Where can we find peace when our souls rage within us for status?
Can we be patient if we think we're owed a quick answer?
Do you see the point? Humility is not only a virtue which was perfectly exhibited by Jesus, but it the soil out of which the other Godly virtues grow. No humility, no anything else.
The Real Benefit of Humility
While it is important that we cultivate humility in a quest to build our character, there is a much more important aspect to humility that we must consider. Humility enables belief.
To disbelieve in God is to assert yourself as the judge of all creation. Disbelief assumes you know all that you need to know to make the determination of whether or not God exists. Or a another flavor of disbelief I have seen is an emotional aversion to God's rule over our lives. This too is pride, and this one should hit close to home because we all battle this.
Humility is not blind faith. It is not stupid submission. Humility is a clear-headed realization that we are small and God is big. Humility breeds curiosity - curiosity about God, about others, and about his world. Humility also encourages us to grow with the Lord and seek to be made more like him.
Here is the deal. We are more sinful than we could ever imagine. We need help. We are smaller than we can understand. We need help. We are often deluded in our understanding. We need help.
Humility is the outstretching of open palms to the God who loves and cares for us, and it is the master key to unlock all character growth. But more than that, humility enables faith and faith enables humility. Such is our dance with God.