Thinking Out Loud

June 29, 2012

A Dose of Humility

I haven’t done a lot of cross-posting with Christianity 201 lately, because that blog has taken on a life of its own. But it’s the start of a long holiday weekend here in Canada — Monday is the actual holiday — so I’m feeling a bit lazy.

While this blog follows topics, trends, and current issues; Christianity 201 — see the button in the sidebar — almost always begins with a scripture portion and Bible exposition or devotional thought by some of the best Bible study bloggers. It really provides a spiritual balance to this blog.

Anyway, for those of you who are new here, I want you to know I am capable of writing other types of material… and who knows? You might just decide you want to be a regular reader.

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. ~Romans 12:3b NIV

At 6’0″ I usually find myself in conversation with people not as tall as myself, but in the last few months I’ve noticed that I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable carrying on conversations with people taller than myself, probably because it happens so seldom. Yesterday we ran into Tim, the son of one of my mother’s best friends, and I again found myself registering the fact I had to keep looking up to make eye contact.

Perceptions about who’s the leader often depend on who is looking up to who

I can see how people like myself who are tall of stature might get confused and think that they are somehow ‘taller’ intellectually or emotionally; and there is always the danger of thinking oneself to be ‘taller’ spiritually. Of course, we all know our inward shortcomings and weaknesses, but when we’re out and about with members of the wider faith family, it’s easy to posture. In the key verse today, Paul says we should use ‘sober judgment’ of ourselves.

Another application of this principle is that we look up to God, who scripture tells us looks down on us. This is repeated in various passages; it’s important to remember who is where! One prayer pattern that I learned years ago contains the phrase, “You’re God and I’m not;” or “You’re God and we’re not.” When we come to Him in prayer, we need to remember who is ‘taller.’

Here’s a similar application of how we deal with our own estimation of ourselves from Luke 14. Jesus is teaching…

7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~NLT

A month ago we attended a family funeral. My wife’s uncle passed away and we didn’t realize that some seats were being held for nieces and nephews, so we took a seat toward the back. Her cousin saw us and immediately told us that special seats were reserved for us, and invited us to “come up higher” in the seating plan. We appreciated this, but I couldn’t help but think of this passage as we were walking to the front, and also of the potential embarrassment that could occur if the situation were reversed.

The brand of Christ-following that is portrayed on television is centered on people with very strong personalities and — dare I say it? — very large egos. I think some of this is given away by the very fact these people want to be on television, though I don’t preclude the use of media to share the gospel. But you and I, the average disciple, should be marked by humility; the type of humility that takes a back seat in a culture that wants to proclaim, “We’re number one.”

We serve the King of Kings. We have the hottest news on the rack. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. But we approach this in a humble spirit, with gratitude that God chose to reach down and rescue us from our fallen state.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. ~ James 4:10 NKJV

How tall do you feel?

~PW

Christianity 201 is a repository of some of the best devotional and Bible Study material in the Christian blogosphere. Selections come from a variety of doctrinal and theological viewpoints. You’re encouraged to read articles at source, and if you like what you read, click that blog’s header to discover more about the writer and consider subscribing.

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7 Comments »

  1. Can we still talk, Paul? At 6’5″ I tower over you. Hope we can still be friends but if it’s a problem, I can crouch down and look at you eye to eye. Please let me know. I don’t want to lose your friendship. Ha! Ha!

    Comment by David Fisher — June 29, 2012 @ 8:05 am

  2. Thanks, its quite a nice piece. However to share a question i have been learning on for sometime, how do you think we can differentiate confidence from pride and demonstrate that practically in our christian life?

    Comment by Selorm — June 29, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    • Interesting you should mention that, because that is something I wrestle with.

      In the movie Network the female lead character is asked, “What was is like to be the person in the room who always had the answer?”

      She answers dryly, “It was awful, really, really awful.”

      Sometimes we are the person in the room who has the answers, and therefore have spiritual confidence that can easily become pride.

      Or sometimes someone will get me started on something I am deeply passionate about, and I wonder if that passion is ever perceived as arrogance.

      We have to be so careful that we keep a humble, meek, servant-driven attitude.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 29, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

      • Alright, but do you think that Christians in their quest for humility sometimes go overboard?

        Comment by Selorm — June 29, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

      • I’m not sure you can go overboard on true humility. What you’re more likely seeing in people sometimes is a low self-esteem issue or an inferiority complex; or, to put it more accurately, a low spiritual self-esteem issue or a spiritual inferiority complex.

        Sometimes too, people appear humble because they’re afraid to step up in Christian service because they are acutely aware of sin in their lives. That’s a whole other issue.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 29, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  3. wow! I am feeling really, really, small (literally). Great Post and Great Reminder.

    Comment by pastorjeffcma — June 29, 2012 @ 4:39 pm


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