“It is so amazing to see how quickly pride in one person can quench the spirit of others (even multitudes are ultimately affected and influenced). How my heart aches for God’s glory to manifested — and it will be — as we walk in humility towards one another – where ever we are!” – Jayne Otterson
“What does it mean to die to self? To want to prove a point by force, or by humbling oneself to the point of hugging the individual, and remembering where one came from?” – Tommy Donahue
Response to Tommy: “Humble enough to hold others higher than ourselves. Humble enough to kneel down and wash another’s feet. Humble enough to die to our own pride and love another beyond our own self. Christ in us has already done it all. Dying to self, laying down our lives for others means laying down our soulish life. And we can only do what He does in and through us — we cannot not even die without Him. How humbling is that?” – Kat Huff
I’ve been feeling a need to speak about humility for the past few months. Recently this subject has popped up on Facebook (see the above posts). Humility is a tough topic to broach. You would be very skeptical if you saw a conference advertised with the pitch – “Excelling in Humility & How I Attained It!”
Christ incarnated humility by “leaving it all” and entering earth’s sin-infected space and time. His humility reached its fullest expression in the darkness of Golgotha – humiliated by taking the curse connected to hanging on a tree (Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:22-23).
This Lord Jesus now dwells in us. Believers can, therefore, as Paul noted, “be clothed in humility.” To “clothe ourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ” is to be likewise dressed in humility (Rom. 13:14).
But it must be underscored that humility will only be deepened in us to the degree that we follow Christ’s pattern. For humility to blossom in our beings we must be daily acquainted with His cross. Proud persons know very little of the cross-life.
Jesus intends for His life to be expressed in the Body of Christ on earth through face-to-face relationships. It must be stressed that social media like Facebook cannot function as ekklesia. No doubt social media can be helpful to those in a wilderness season, and for communicating with those already in organic relationships. But the fact of the matter is that exchanging e-words with people you have never met is not community as it is unfolded in the New Testament. Smiley faces and other symbols are very dim shadows of the real-life together among believers that Paul saw come to expression in the first century.
Perhaps understanding that the e-world can function quite well without living relationships helps us appreciate why humility is so scarce, and why pride often surfaces in the endless posting on the internet.
When I was substituting in a public high school recently, I saw a poster on the wall. It should be of interest to us that in light of the bullying, etc., that has occurred on the Internet, a program has emerged in which students are asked to “Pause Before You Post” (PBP). They are encouraged to make these commitments:
Before I make a post, I pledge to ask myself:
Who will be able to see what I post?
Will anyone be embarrassed or hurt by it?
Am I proud of what I’m posting?
How I would feel if someone posted it about me?
Those who converse with others through social media would do well to think on those basic points. We all need to PBP!
May I offer some fruit that will appear when the humility of Christ is present? I think all of us would do well to carefully consider these perspectives as we communicate with others, and react to things people say to us in the e-world.
**People filled with Christ will speak to others in a way that they would want others to speak to them.
**People with the living waters of Christ flowing from their innermost being will speak words that bring healing not hurt. “The lips of the righteous nourish many” (Proverbs 10:21).
**Saints will be increasingly conscious that when they speak to believers they are in a real sense speaking to Jesus. Christ told Paul that when he was messing with His followers, he was messing with Him (Acts 9:4).
**When you read something that concerns, bothers, upsets or troubles you, make sure you understand what the other person meant and intended instead of retorting quickly with a combative response. Ask them a question like, “In these comments you made, am I correct in understanding you to mean this?” Make an inquiry instead of pouncing on someone’s remarks. Explore the other’s heart instead of assuming that you understand their position.
**True humility will not pigeonhole and label people. It is very frustrating to see arbitrary labels pinned on others, when those being so categorized are scratching their heads in disbelief.
**I think one of the most common violations of humility occurs when people say things about others publicly that they would never say to their face. And there are certainly occasions where a person should go directly to another with their concerns, and keep them out of the public arena.
**The humility of Christ will lead a person to be open to learn from many sources. Consider what is reported about Apollos in Acts 18. Here was a brother who was eloquent and savvy in the Scriptures. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him in the synagogue, they saw that his understanding was deficient. They invited him to their home and Priscilla and Aquila “explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Here’s a guy that knew the Old Testament backwards and forwards, but he possessed a humility that was open to learn from a wife (who was listed first) and her husband.
**Humility will lead a person to trust the Spirit to work in hearts, not in their argumentation. “For the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he/she must be kind to everyone . . . . Those who oppose he/she must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance . . .” (2 Tim. 2:25).
I leave you with some quotations from Thomas Dubay. Caring: A Biblical Theology of Community is one of the most profound books I have ever read. I would ask that you bring these words from Caring to Father, and ask Him to reveal some of their implications for how you communicate with and respond to others.
“The initial task the members of the group should face is the exploration of one another’s minds . . . . Evaluation is a later step, not the first one. Initially we should concentrate on understanding why the member is saying this, on exploring his/her mind.”
“When a person refers to a position he does not share, he should make a conscious effort to represent that opinion fairly.”
“Most of us easily assume that we listen to others. Perhaps. But perhaps not. We hear all the words and sentences, but whether we heed is another matter. Receiving sound waves from another human being requires only a normal hearing apparatus and a sufficiently wakeful state. Listening to that person is incomparably more complex. All of us, therefore, need to learn to listen.”
“We need to be humble, small in our own estimation. Finding the solution to a mathematical problem is possible without humility, but finding God’s will is impossible without this virtue.”
“We try to grow in awareness that the person sharing is important, even precious, ‘God’s beloved’ (Romans 1:7). We pay attention to important people. To the proud person others are not important, and so he is not inclined to take them that seriously. Even more, we value the opinions of those we love. If I do not really care what my brother/sister thinks, I had better doubt that I love my brother/sister.”
By Jon Zens
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Thomas Dubay, “Communication in Community,” Searching Together, 14:4, 1985. Available from ST, P. O. Box 548, St Croix Falls WI, 54024, $3.50 postpaid.
Frank Viola, “Being Offended By Others” http://frankviola.org/2012/03/07/forgottenbeatitude2/
Frank Viola, “The Art of Being A Jerk Online: 10 Sure Ways” http://frankviola.org/2012/02/16/beingajerkonline/
Jon Zens, “’Have You Heard . . .?’ The Plague of Gossip in the Body of Christ”