Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 6
Humility In Daily Life
"He that does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20).
What a sobering thought, that our love for God is measured by our everyday interaction with men and the love it displays. Our love for God will be found to be an illusion, except where it is proven by the test of daily life with our fellow man. It is the same with our humility. It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God, but humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real. It will be the only proof that humility has taken up its residence in us, and become our very nature, the only proof that we, like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation. When lowliness of heart has become not a posture we assume for a time, when we think of Him or pray to Him, but the very spirit of our life, then it will become obvious in all our behavior towards our brethren. This lesson is one of critical importance. The only humility that is really ours is not the humility we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us and actively live in our ordinary conduct. The insignificant matters of daily life are the important tests of eternity because they prove what Spirit truly dwells within us. It is our most unguarded moments that we really show and see what we are. To know the humble man, to know how the humble man behaves, you must follow him in the common course of daily life.
Isn't this what Jesus taught? It was when the disciples disputed who should be greatest; when He saw how the Pharisees loved the chief place at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues; when He gave them the example of washing their feet, that He taught His lessons of humility. Humility before God is nothing unless it is proven through humility before men.
It is the same way in the teaching of Paul. To the Romans, he writes, "with honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10); "Be unanimous among yourselves, not high minded, but accommodating the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion" (Romans 12:16). To the Corinthians, "Charity suffers long and is benign; charity envies not; charity does nothing without due reason, is not puffed up, is not injurious, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). There is no love without humility as its root. To the Galatians, "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:26). To the Ephesians, immediately after the three wonderful chapters on the heavenly life, he says, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation with which ye are called, with all humility and meekness, with tolerance, forbearing one another in love, being diligent to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3). To the Philippians, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in humility let each esteem others better than themselves, with each one not looking to their own things, but also to the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Philippians 2:3-8). And to the Colossians, "Clothed, therefore, (as the elect of God, holy and beloved) with bowels of mercies, with kindness, with humility, with meekness, with tolerance, forbearing one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you,so also do ye" (Colossians 3:12-13). It is in our relationship to one another, in our treatment of one another, that the true lowliness of mind and the heart of humility will be seen. Our humility before God only has value inasmuch as it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow man. Let us study humility in daily life in the light of these words.
The humble man seeks at all times to act according to the rule: with honor preferring one another; by charity serve one another; esteeming others better than themselves; submitting yourselves one to another." The question is often asked, How we can count others better than ourselves, when we see that they are far below us in wisdom, holiness, natural gifts, or grace received? The question itself proves at once how little we understand what real lowliness of mind is. True humility comes when, in the light of God, we have seen ourselves to be nothing and have consented to part with and cast away self, to let God be all. The soul that has done this, and can say, I have lost myself in finding Him, no longer compares itself with others. It has given up forever every thought of self in God's presence. It interacts with its fellow man as one who is nothing, and seeks nothing for itself. This soul is a servant of God, and for His sake a servant of all. A faithful servant may be wiser than the master, and still retain the true spirit and attitude of the servant. The humble man looks at even the feeblest and most unworthy child of God, and honors him and prefers him in honor as the son of a King. The spirit of Him who washed the disciples' feet makes it a joy to us to be the least, to be servants one of another.
The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are favored and rewarded before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God's presence he has learned to say with Paul, "I am nothing." He has received the spirit of Jesus, who didn't please Himself and didn't seek His own honor as the spirit of His life.
When the humble man is tempted to become impatient or offended, to have hard thoughts or use sharp words, because of the failings and sins of fellow Christians, he carries the Scripture in his heart, and shows it in his life, "forbearing one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:13). He has learned that by putting on the Lord Jesus, he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering. Jesus has taken the place of self, and it is not an impossibility to forgive as Jesus forgave. His humility does not exist only in thoughts or words, but in a heart of humility. This heart is encompassed by compassion and kindness, meekness and long-suffering, the sweet and lowly gentleness recognized as the mark of the Lamb of God.
In striving after the higher experiences of the Christian life, the believer is often in danger of aiming at and rejoicing in what one might call the more human, manly virtues, such as boldness, joy, contempt of the world, zeal, and self-sacrifice; even the old stoics taught and practiced these. While the deeper and gentler, more heavenly attributes, those which Jesus first taught in His time on earth, those which are more distinctly connected with His Cross and death of self, poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, and lowliness, are scarcely thought of or valued. For this reason, let us put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering. Let us prove our Christlikeness, not only in our zeal for saving the lost, but also openly in all our interactions with the brethren, by being tolerant and forgiving one another, "even as the Lord forgave us."
Fellow Christians, let us diligently study the Bible portrait of the humble man. Let us ask other believers and ask the world, whether they recognize in us the likeness to the original. Let us be content with nothing less than taking each of these texts as the promise of what God will work in us. There promises are the revelation in words of what the spirit of Jesus will create and cause to grow within us. Let each failure and shortcoming simply urge us to turn humbly and meekly to the meek and lowly Lamb of God. We have the assurance that where He is enthroned in the heart, His humility and gentleness will be one of the streams of living water that flow from within us.
Once again, I repeat what I have said before, I feel deeply that we have a very poor understanding of what the church suffers because of the lack of divine humility, the nothingness that makes room for God to prove His power. It was not long ago that a Christian missionary friend expressed his deep sorrow that in some cases the spirit of love and tolerance was sadly lacking. The men and women in Europe, of whom he was referring, could each choose their own circle of friends, but when faced with others of incompatible minds, they found it hard to endure, love, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Those who should have been fellow helpers of each other's joy became a hindrance and a weariness. All this happened for one reason: the lack of humility which counts itself nothing, which rejoices in becoming and being counted the least, and which only seeks, like Jesus, to be the servant, helper and comforter of others, even the lowest and most unworthy.
From where does it come, that men who have joyfully given up themselves for Christ, find it so hard to give up themselves for their brethren? Isn't the blame with the church? It has barely taught that the humility of Christ is the first of the virtues, the best of all the attributes and powers of the Spirit. It has not proven by its behavior that a Christlike humility is what it, like Christ, places and preaches first, as what is needed and possible. Let us not be discouraged. Let the discovery of the lack of this quality stir us to a greater expectation from God. Let us look at every person who annoys or agitates us, as God's means of grace, God's instrument for our purification, for the working out of the humility Jesus our Life breathes within us. And let us have such faith in the completeness of God, as the nothingness of self, that as nothing in our own eyes, we may, in God's power, only seek to serve one another in love.
(continued with # 7 - Humility and Holiness