(Living life beyond your circumstances)
What exactly does it mean to have a humble mind?
Before we talk about what humility means, let’s talk about what it doesn’t mean. Humility doesn’t mean weakness, it doesn’t mean vulnerability. Humility is not necessarily the opposite of, nor the absence of pride. It doesn’t mean denying our own needs. True humility is not someone taking away our will or our freedom.
Words To Remember-
“The humble also shall increase their JOY in the LORD, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 29:19
To be humble is to consider ourselves lower or weaker than others. It is the willing surrender of our will for the benefit of another. Jesus testified to His own humility in Matthew 11:29 – “Place my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus gives us a perfect picture of what it means to be humble in John chapter 13. (Keep in mind the definition of humility from the above paragraph as you read following passage).
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:3-17)
- Admit and Submit – To be humble is to admit our need and submit our will.
Notice the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Christ the Lord, willingly, even longingly humbling Himself to serve. But, look at Peter’s response – “no Lord, you will never wash my feet”. What do you think Peter’s would have said if Jesus had asked him to wash His feet? I suspect he would have felt it an honor and done so without hesitation. But when it came to receiving, Peter couldn’t humble himself to admit his need, and clearly he resisted submitting his will. I can’t help but wonder if Peter was from southern Jerusalem. We southerners do a pretty good job when it comes to serving, helping out when a need arises. But, it seems as if we are born with a sense of independence that keeps us from accepting help no matter how great the need. True humility has two sides; humble in serving as well as in being served.
- How we think – True humility is not what we do or don’t do, its how we think.
Before retiring, I worked in Human Resources. In a training class on recruiting and retention, we were given the acronym WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). I’m sorry to say, that’s pretty much the times in which we live. This is pretty much an “all about me” world, but it’s not supposed to be that way. All too often we try to justify our wrong thinking. Does any of this sound familiar? “What if I give myself to others but they are just in it for themselves”? “What about me”? “Whose going to look out for my best interest”? Wrong arguments, bad attitude.
- Others before me – True humility is the willing surrender of our will for the benefit of another.
Isn’t that beautiful? So many things that could be said here. How it gives us joy to bless another, even if we are in need. The peace we feel when we give comfort to one who is hurting, when we ourselves may be in pain. The sense of hope we get when we listen to the heart of a friend, even when our own heart is burdened. My mind goes to the words of Jesus quoted by Paul in Acts 20:35 ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
We’ve all heard the stories of heroes risking their own lives to save another. Here is one such account.
Jena David was on the phone with her fiancé, panicking, as the floodwaters began to rise inside her Ford Focus. She was among hundreds of motorists who got stranded Aug. 11 when metro Detroit was hit by massive flooding.
David, a psychology graduate student, was returning home to Sterling Heights after turning in a thesis paper at Wayne State State University when her car got stuck in deep water near Van Dyke and 13 Mile in Warren. As the waters rose past her waist, David thought she was a goner. Her car door wouldn’t open. “I’m going to die,” she thought. Then a man appeared in her window. “I remember him grabbing me and saying, ‘Get out of the car,’ and he put me on his shoulder,” David recalled.
The man was Dustin Rowen, a 25-year-old eye care store manager from Canton who helped three stranded motorists that day. He said the first rescue was an elderly woman, then a man, “then out of the corner of my eye, I caught her freaking out.” He was referring to David. In an interview with the Free Press, Rowen explained how he knew he would go after the woman. He was a strong swimmer. He could help. But he made a phone call first. “I called my mom and said, ‘I love you. I’m going in,'” he recalled. “It was a risk I knew I was taking, but you kind of don’t worry about yourself at that point.”
Dustin Rowen, eye care store manager But David’s car was tricky. The door wouldn’t open because of the water pressure. Rowen, who was in chest-deep water, remembers David panicking. He grabbed onto her door handle, put his feet up on the car and pushed as hard as he could until it broke free. “I told her to grab on and I’d get her there,” he said, referring to dry land. Rowen slung the woman over his shoulder and made his way through the water, sometimes going under himself. He got her to safety: a nearby Buddy’s Pizza shop. He held her hand and comforted her until the ambulance arrived. She was hospitalized and released that night, though police mistakenly reported to the media that she died in the floods. Why they did that remains unknown. Rowen, who was stunned at the news reports that David had died, was relieved to learn that it wasn’t true. Days later, he met up with David, who tracked him down on Facebook, at the Buddy’s Pizza. The two hugged and smiled. “I did what I think everyone would do,” Rowen said, noting he has four sisters. “Someone needed help … I can’t stand seeing someone who needs help.” David said she’s grateful that people like Rowen still exist, that “someone can come out of nowhere.” “It was a guardian angel watching out for me,” she said.
We’ve talked about what a humble mind is and isn’t, now let’s examine what it looks like and how we get to a mindset of humility.
- We must humble ourselves before God
As God’s children we are commanded to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Our proper worship, our right relationship, is possible only through our communion with Him and our obedience to Him.
And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
Surely, if it was necessary for Jesus, then likewise our own relationship with the Father is possible only if we come to Him humbly.
I really struggle with is the casual attitude that we have toward God in today’s world, I admit that I myself get lazy. From Genesis to Revelation we are continually reminded that our God is a Holy God. We are reminded, no commanded, to come into His presence with fear and trembling and awe.
I fear that in our efforts to become more intimate with God, we attempt to bring Him down to us rather than lifting ourselves up to Him. We’ve become demanding – this is what I want, I want it my way, and I want it now! It doesn’t work that way, there is no “express lane” to the throne of God.
- We must humble ourselves before one another
Just as we are commanded to serve God, we are commanded to serve one another.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
In Ephesians 4, Paul gives additional instruction concerning this command.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. (Ephesians 4:1-3).
In this passage Paul teaches us that humility serves the body of Christ in three ways.
- Humility is necessary for unity in the body of Christ.
- Humility is necessary for service to the body of Christ.
- Humility is necessary for love for the body of Christ.
If we agree that Christ Himself is our example, (and I trust that we all do), then we must accept that without a humble mind toward God and one another, we will never experience the fullness of the JOY of Christ.
Read Philippians Chapter 2, verses 1-18.
- What does Paul say will give him joy? (vs. 2)
- What are the 5 “actions” that contribute to joy? (vss. 1-2)
- What qualities of humility does Paul describe? (vss. 3-14)
- What are the rewards of humility Paul describes? (vss. 15-18)
Finding your JOY.
- Think about your interactions with fellow believers. Which of the following best describes your relationships?
Mostly of the same mind Sometimes of the same mind
Rarely of the same mind Almost never agree on anything
2. What are some things you could you do in your home, church, school, work place, to bring more harmony?
3. Of the 5 components of joy you listed in “Let’s Review” question 2, which one(s) do you need to give more attention to?
4. What qualities of humility you listed, which one(s) do you struggle with most?
5. What actions can you can/will you take so that you can grow to having more Christ-like humility?
6. Briefly summarize what you’ve learned so far in our studies – “A Thankful Heart” and “A Humble Mind”. How has what you’ve learned made a difference in your relationship with God and your relationships with others?
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©2017 Sandra Bivens Smith