Don't Get Humility Wrong #1

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In 1 Samuel 15, God pronounced the end of the reign of Saul, the first king of Israel. God made Saul king and blessed him with the attributes and favours attached to royal status. But when He ordered the king to liquidate the Amalekites, because they had been aggressive toward His people in the past, the monarch wasn’t humble enough to obey Him and fully execute the divine command. So God decided to strip him of his royal power. He deposed him and appointed David to the throne.

Like Saul, many people don’t know how to handle a blessing from God. God blesses them with material things, academic credentials or success in business or career, and they let that blessing go to their head, failing to appreciate the fact that the blessing came from God. They become conceited and arrogant, and, consequently, begin to develop a proud look that leads them to regard other people with contempt. But the Bible says that a proud look is one the most detestable human attitudes in the sight of God. The wise man said, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverb 6:16-17). A proud look comes at the top of the sins listed as the things that God hates.

Lack of humility plagues the church today, especially its leadership. Someone in the congregation may be entrusted with a certain responsibility, and they begin to think of themselves as more important than the rest of the members. But the word of the Lord earnestly discourages such attitude. Paul said, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

Some brethren, mostly men, tend to want to impose their views on the church or control it, because of their position as teacher or preacher. Some even brandish their gender or seniority in the faith to justify such behaviour. Again, on this point, the word of God is emphatic. The apostle Peter said, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3). Some members say that the main reason why we have bad leadership in the church is because of brothers such as Jim The Boss, Jack The Pretender, Bob The Aggressive and Tom The Loudmouthed. They all have in common the desire to be “rulers” or “number 1.”  Psychology has shown that desire for power is the deepest longing within the human soul. When egotistic desires of this kind become detrimental to the church, the alarm has to be raised.

The apostles of Jesus Christ were no different back in the first century. On one occasion, Jesus rebuked them for coveting power and positions. They had been caught up in a dispute that was about who was the greatest among them while travelling with Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem before He would be crucified. Then the Zebedee brothers, James and John, came to Jesus accompanied by their mother, Matthew recounts, and she requested of Jesus that He exalted her boys, one to His right and the other to His left (Matthew 20:21-22). Jesus then ceased that opportunity to teach His disciples on the height of humility. He said, “Ye know that the princes of the gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).

Greatness, in God’s kingdom, is obtained through service rendered both to the church and individual members. And God has a way of rewarding the humble, including those who are serious about serving Him faithfully. Peter said, “God resisteth the proud, and he giveth grace to the humble.” Then he advised, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).  

Now, we can get humility wrong the other way round. The word may be mistaken for something else, because we live in an age of much confusion. The well-known website with the name “confused” is perhaps an indication of how confused the world is today, and this is possibly due to the staggering amount of information our minds have to process at a time. While the term “humility” expresses the quality of lowliness of mind, as already discussed, and confirmed as such in other New Testament passages (Acts 20:19, Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 2:3, Colossians 3:12), it shouldn’t however be confused with self-pity.

Constant Coulibaly