I suppose that most of us think we’re humble, at least mostly humble.
And if we’re ever proud, it’s a good kind of pride, the innocent kind, like being proud of your kids or rejoicing over some kind of success.
All that makes humility somewhat elusive, because most of us think we’ve really got all of it we need.
It’s easy to notice when other people need it, though. I can think of quite a few people who could stand a big dose of humility, can’t you?
Not so much.
Humility is one of those attributes that goes against the grain of things that matter to us.
Many of us have joined Lee Greenwood in belting out the lyrics to “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. . . .”
But there’s nothing wrong with patriotic pride.
And I’ve said a time or two, “I’m proud of my kids.”
But there’s nothing wrong with parental pride.
And maybe we’ve boasted a little about our accomplishments at work or school.
But there’s nothing wrong with a little personal pride.
The problem is that pride deceives.
It lies to the one who harbors it. It points out the faults in others but blinds us to our own.
And that makes it difficult to recognize.
In contrast, humility is always outward-focused.
It elevates others, putting them on the pedestal and ourselves in the shadows.
It doesn’t advance its own agenda; it’s never self-serving.
The root word for humility means to lie low, pointing to a submissive bodily posture.
But of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that we bow physically. Instead, it points to a condition of the heart.
It’s an internal posture that says, “It’s not all about me. I don’t have to have my way. Let me serve you.”
Paul wrote that God’s children are to put on humility as one of the beautiful garments of Christ-likeness (Colossians 3:12).
And really, we see it most clearly at Calvary. Jesus “emptied himself” and took on the “form of a servant.” When he came to earth he “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).
The tough thing about humility is that we never fully get there. We’ll be working on it the rest of our lives.
But humility is like the other Christian graces, I suppose.
The more time we spend reflecting on what Jesus did at the cross, the closer we’ll get to modeling the essence of who he is.