What does God want?

Have you ever met a truly humble person? Would you know one if you met one?

Humility is one of those words that’s hard to define, but not so hard to recognize. Let’s see if you can recognize humility in one of the three examples below:

1. Your friend is apologizing profusely for letting you down. “I’m so sorry. I feel like such a loser. I don’t know how you can still be my friend after I keep disappointing you.”

2. You’ve asked a man you know reasonably well if he would be willing to share a bit of his life story at a small group meeting. His response is to say that he’s not very comfortable with public speaking, that he’s more of a doer than a speaker and could you please find someone else.

3. You walk into a group of people who are deep in conversation. When a break in the conversation occurs, a man you’ve never met introduces himself to you and begins to ask you about yourself.

The first example has nothing to do with humility at all. It is an expression of regret, but the person who has made the mistake is looking for attention, for reassurance that you are still their friend and is showing little feeling for how their mistake has hurt you.

The second example illustrates a kind of false humility, where the person doesn’t want to be seen to be less than competent and so hides from serving in an area of relative weakness. This is really an expression of pride rather than humility and you would expect that this person thinks highly of being a doer rather than a speaker.

The third example does illustrate humility as the person in the group doesn’t draw attention to himself, but shows genuine interest in you, wants to include you in the group and attempts to draw you out in conversation as the person newest to the group.

Humility doesn’t draw attention to oneself, but is happy to see attention go to others. We can illustrate this by using the teaching of the prophet Micah in his question and answer in chapter 6, verse 8:

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

What does it mean for a person to walk humbly with God? It requires that the person recognize that God is greater, that God is worthy of glory and that our lives will only be lined up in the right way when we are more concerned with God being glorified than with our own reputation and honor. The person who walks humbly with God is aware that He is holy and that we are sinful. The person who walks humbly with God has agreed with God’s judgment that we are inclined towards evil and that all His ways are just. It’s something we have settled in our minds; God is what we would like to be and are not capable of being. He is above and beyond us and is worthy of our worship and our obedience. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge this is, according to the teaching of Scripture, walking in pride and is outside of God’s grace and favor.

That makes this whole issue of humility a key one for us to wrestle with and to have settled. We’ll visit this topic again in the near future . . .