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Humility, we all have heard this word, studied this word and have desired to live humbly before our God. The past few weeks this word has been coming up in various conversations, either with my husband, or with sisters in the Lord, or in something I have read. Humility, as we know is something all us as Christians should possess. We, who say we are God’s chosen, must be humble. For we all know that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) But what exactly does humility look like. We know what it means, but what is it to look like in the life of a believer?
First of all, let’s revisit what it means to be humble. When you look the definition up in the dictionary you will see words such as, lowly, gentle, and modest. One of the definitions from the Greek/ Hebrew Lexicon says that a humble man is one who prefers to bear the injuries rather than return them. The last definition that I found also stated that to be humble one must be submitted. But what exactly is humility to look like in the life of a believer? Well, praise God He gives us many examples, including His own for our study today in humility.
The first mention of the word humble is in Exodus. In Exodus 10 Moses has heard from God to go again into Pharaoh and tell him that God said, “Let My people go”. So far, up to this point Pharaoh has refused and the plagues have started. So, Moses takes his brother Aaron with him and they go once again into Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s heart, and the hearts of all those in attendance to Pharaoh are hardened, they are not going to listen.
“So Moses came into Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” Exodus 10:3
Here we see Moses, a man who was not only committed to doing God’s will but also submitted to doing God’s will. That is the first reflection of humility that we find and can draw from. Numbers 12:3 tells us that Moses was very humble, more than all the men who were on the face of the earth. Moses was a gentle man. He had been brought low before the Lord God, and knew how little and insignificant he really was. Something one of our pastor’s at church said yesterday goes along with how Moses saw himself. He said that we are replaceable. We are not the only one’s God can use to bring to pass His will. If we harden our hearts and don’t walk in the ways that He has asked us to, then He will find someone else who will. Look at Saul and David. Saul was supposed to be humbled and walking in the will of God, serving Him and Him alone. But he became prideful and lifted up, and God replaced him with David, a man whose heart was humbled before God. A humbled heart knows how insignificant and how little his life is without God at the very core. If Moses would have refused to go into Pharaoh, God would have found another way, or another man.
A humbled heart is a submitted heart. In our walks, we must not think too highly of ourselves. No matter what position or title you hold, you are replaceable. Standing before God, you are little and have nothing to boast of. A humbled heart understands their desperate need for Jesus and is the first one to admit it.
Not only did Moses understand this truth, but so did Abraham. Abraham is before the Lord, interceding on behalf of his nephew who is living in Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels have come and told Abraham they are going to destroy this city, and Abraham goes before the Lord and begins to bargain with him. But even in the midst of all this, Abraham knew how inconsequential his life was, and how mighty and holy God is. “Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:” (Genesis 18:27) A humbled heart understands how low they really are before our mighty and holy God. Humility begins to grow in us when we recognize how little we truly are before our high and lofty God. Humility begins when we submit to His will, and do not consider what others may do to us. We only consider what He will do to us. Humility is born from that truth in us.
In the definitions of humility, the one that really stuck out at me was the one that said that a humbled heart prefers to bear the injuries rather than return them. There have been many times that someone has said something to me and I have retaliated because they were wrong, they hurt me, or they caused me pain. But, one thing I am seeing and learning is that a truly humbled heart will not retaliate. A humbled heart is a gentle heart, mindful of others, even if that “other” is causing you grief or sorrow, or pain. A humbled heart would rather bear the hurt inflicted upon them, then seek the retribution they feel they are entitled too. A humbled heart understands that before God we are not entitled to anything.
Jesus was our perfect example of humility, because if anyone had the right to seek retribution for what was being done to Him it was our God, Jesus Christ. But instead of seeking retribution and turning them all into ash as they beat Him, spit on Him, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross, He forgave them. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) A humbled heart does not seek to be justified, because a humbled heart believes that God is the justifier of all who call upon Him.
As I look at all these examples of humility that have been lived out before me, I see my own need to be humbled before my mighty and holy God. There are times in my life when I am more focused on me than on others, in those moments I am not being humble before my God. There are times when I come before the Lord and I list off all my needs for the days, and then go away like God is some sort of vending machine, sitting in heaven just waiting to do my bidding. In these moments, my heart is hardened and I have forgotten how mighty and holy my God is, and how lowly I truly am. There are moments when someone says something that hurts me and I want to strike out against them. I seek to be right and want them to know just how right I am. But, a true, sincere, humbled heart before the Lord bears the wrongs done to them, and seeks justification from God alone. A humbled heart understands that before God we are not entitled to anything.
When we seek to live humbly before our God and before our fellow man, we must first be willing to give up any rights we think we might have, and any desire we might have for fame, wealth, or status. We must submit to God in all things, whether they will harm us or not, and we must be willing to put aside all that has hurt us, forgive all who have wronged us and walk before our God in that same humility. Without humility in our hearts, we have become the opposite, hardened and obstinate, like Pharaoh. Without humility we have become those who seek their own rights before they desire to seek God. Let it not be said of us, Church, that we are not humble. But instead, let it be said of us that we are humble before our God. Amen?