5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble. ~ Andrew Murray.
When I was young, I was a good basketball player. And I knew it. I would play with guys much older than me and beat them. When they would compliment me on my game, I would deflect their praise, “No, I’m not good at all. I played terribly.” The trouble with this false modesty is that it would do two things. First, it would leave the one paying the compliment feeling lower than just being beaten. “If this guy thinks he isn’t good, what must he think of me?” Second, it would often solicit even more insistent praise. “No man, you are really good!” And on it went.
Christ’s mindset was not one of false modesty. He knew he was intimately One with Father God, but he did not take advantage of others with this powerful knowledge. He did not lord it over them. When someone wronged him, he did not “put them in their place.” He forgave them. He didn’t worry about how people responded to him. He simply carried out his mission to love God by serving others. And he expects us to do the same.
Humility is a precious virtue in all relationships. It begins with humility toward God. If we do not respect God’s authority in our lives, we are not likely to respect others who are created equal to us. False modesty and haughty pride unravel the cords of our relationships, and pull us apart from God’s intended oneness, leaving us bereft in a barren desert wilderness. It is also the case that we need to be humble about who we are. As someone has said — not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. Humility strips away our ego, our false self and allows our soul to shine through.
Holy and healthy relationships are built on a humble heart. We develop this by being content with who God created us to be, God’s children in Christ. We no longer base our worth on how many people like us or who follows us. We are confident that our lives have value in the eyes of God. This confidence allows us to do our best and not be consumed by the rest.
I have been writing for almost half a century now. Over that time, I have honed my craft and cultivated my passion such that being a writer is now my vocation. Not only do I write, but people read what I write. I have written over 500 sermons and two books. My blog reaches over 400 subscribers. My Facebook author page just crossed over 1,500 followers. Am I boasting? Perhaps. But I know better than to take credit for these accomplishments, and I don’t take pride in them. Instead, I find myself desperate to add more. I am not satisfied. I crave more. More likes. More shares. More readers. More followers. Who am I trying to please? I like to think I do what I do to please God but the way I become obsessed with trivial concerns at the expense of healthy relationships does not please God. To paraphrase, “Wretched man that I am! Who will save me from my death-dealing ego.” The answer? Christ Jesus, the one who lowered himself even to the point of death on the cross so we might be lifted up to join him in the highest heavens.
The key to avoiding the trap of false pride is not to sabotage my success and write less or package it in ways that few would find appealing. The humility of Christ is not practiced by becoming less engaged. It is not about keeping my giftedness to myself. Instead, it is serving others through words that build up in a world that tears them down. And I can’t allow myself to grow weary in doing this good. I am called to write words that reflect God’s Word; share a message that conveys God’s message; inspire those with ears to hear and hearts to follow God’s ways. When I think on these things, not only does my understanding of God increase, but so does my self-confidence, and my ability to build healthy and holy relationships with others in the Spirit of Christ.