Here’s something I can really talk about, but not necessarily relate to: humility. I can talk about it because of the old adage, “Those who can’t do, teach.”
As a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine) I used to say, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re the best”, and that’s true for the Marine Corps, but not always for me.
When I think of a humble person I think of a shy, quiet person who won’t speak up, who will follow the crowd so as not to make a scene or be set apart, and of someone who is, generally, ineffective at leadership. This is the kind of picture I think many people have of someone who is called “humble.”
Then I think of Moshe. The Manual says he was the meekest/humblest of all men. Yet, he led over a million people for four decades. He stood up against the most powerful ruler in the world at that time. He gave up riches and power (being raised in the Pharaoh’s household) to become a shepherd, and he had anger management issues (he did commit murder, remember?)
When I feel humble it’s usually because I have been knocked down by someone, belittled and made to feel unimportant. That is not a “godly” humility: that is absement. Negative thoughts about ourselves and feelings of despair are the tools of the Enemy. God wants us to acknowledge His authority and His power, without feeling belittled. We should be awed by Him, not embarrassed. And if someone abases us, because of the Spirit that dwells within us we should be strong enough not to react with anger but with understanding.
Humility takes strength because we need to be strong enough to accept our position in relation to God, and our position within society. We need to overcome our selfish and egocentric inclinations to “get back” at someone who hurts us or embarrasses us and understand that they must be hurting terribly to do such a cruel and heartless thing. Moshe was a strong leader, yet he remained humble. When the people threatened to stone him and Aaron, he didn’t call down fire on them or curse them; instead, he fell to the ground before the Lord and asked for forgiveness for them. When offered the opportunity (more than once) to become the progenitor of a great nation, he refused and reminded God about His promises. In the light of this great honor, all Moshe could think of was God’s glory, and God’s reputation.
Now that is a humble person. Moshe showed great strength, spiritual maturity and concern not for himself but for God and the people that were his responsibility. He wasn’t weak, not by a long shot!
There is another old saying I will remind us of: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Just look throughout history at leaders, all leaders, in all countries. Despots, tyrants, Presidents, Emperors, whatever the title, those in power have often (too often) fallen down from the high position of humility and sank to the lowest position of self- importance. Isn’t that how it ends up? Doesn’t the Bible teach that God will bring the haughty down and raise up the meek? We are told this in the book of Proverbs, and Yeshua said it when He gave the Sermon on the Mount. Throughout the Tanakh we see how the humble who trust in God are protected and often raised up to positions of great importance, while those who are mighty and reject God become humbled by Him. Think of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, when the king was made to eat grass for 7 years as Daniel made sure the kingdom was kept secure. Not for himself, as he could easily have been able to manipulate, but safe for the king because Daniel knew that God was going to restore him. Daniel was the second most powerful man in the most powerful kingdom in the world at that time, and he remained humble. How? Because he was a Godly man who knew his place, and what God wanted from him.
That’s our challenge. To remain humble, not as a result of telling ourselves how little we matter, or how terrible we are, but by understanding who we are: who we are in God, that God is in charge and we are here to serve Him as He directs. We are important, we are one step below the Almighty, above the angels and cherubim, and Sons and Daughters of Avraham (whether born that way or adopted.) And the best and most useful thing we can do is to give the Glory and the Honor to God, who made it all possible. We have talents, we are wonderful creations, renewed each day by His Spirit, we are the Temple of God’s Spirit itself! We are tremendously blessed and honored by the All Powerful Creator of Everything!
And without God we are nothing. Want to stay humble? Remember that it is God who made us what we are, and when we do wonderful things it is because of Him. We should not revel in our own “greatness”; instead, we should honor God by giving Him the glory and the honor that what we do has earned. People seek honor and glory, but we who know the Lord and have been saved by His Grace through Messiah Yeshua should seek honor and glory for God.
That’s the big difference: the unsaved seek glory for themselves, and the Godly seek glory for God. That’s how we remain humble.
It’s like I always say (and anyone who knows me will confirm that I am always saying something): What I do that is wonderful and good is from God doing it through me; when I screw something up, then I can take full credit.