Real and Faux Humility

by Jan Silvious

There is an amusing story of a rabbi, a cantor, and a lowly synagogue cleaner who were preparing for the Day of Atonement The rabbi beat his breast and intoned, "I am nothing." The cantor beat his breast and moaned, "I am nothing." The cleaner beat his breast and said, "I am nothing." And the rabbi said to the cantor, "So, look who thinks he's nothing!" Announcing one's humility is a dead giveaway that pride is really in control!

I know a woman who demeans herself constantly, saying how unworthy she is to do this or that. But when it comes to having her way, she "humbly" goes about having it In her own mind, I'm convinced, she considers herself a humble person, just because she doesn't flaunt what she does,.

God's definition of humility is quite different It's first of all a matter of attitude: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant" (Phil. 2:5-7).

Second, humility is something you learn. Jesus told us how to achieve this virtue in Matthew 11:29: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

To learn humility is to learn contentment in all circumstances. Humility is not in what we own or achieve, but in maintaining a teachable attitude, a willingness to bend to the will of the Father.

Paul said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Phil. 4:12).

If you are in reduced circumstances, but bitter with God because life is unfair, then even though your situation may be humbling, you have not really discovered the attitude or learned the lesson of humility. If you have greater financial security than you ever imagined you would have, live in your dream house, have been promoted to the top, yet you are willing to give it all up at a moment's notice, then you probably meet God's criteria for humility.

Take time today to ask the Father to expose any prideful place in you. Ask Him to teach you His definition of humility. Then rest, content in the provisions He has made for you.

From The 5-Minute Devotional

©Zondervan 1991

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