REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of June 20, 2021
Live a Life of Humility: 1 Peter 5:6
We are in Week 20 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we’ll look at Rule 4.34: Live a Life of Humility. Like so many of these rules, living a life of humility is not exactly lauded as a cultural norm. In fact, from sports, to entertainment, to politics, brash self-promotion is the rule of the day. But if there is one attribute that we can adopt that most reflects Christ, it is living a life of humility. So, why is living a life of humility so Christ-like?
I think a key to really understanding humility is understanding it’s polar opposite, which is pride. Though pride can be defined in a number of different ways, one of my favorites is this: pride is when we contend for supremacy with God and lift up our hearts against him. Just as pride was the first sin—the sin committed by Satan, it is also the root of so much of the conflict in our lives, whether it be with God or man. So often we focus all our efforts on addressing symptomatic sins in our lives—lust, anger, impatience, selfishness, bitterness, and so on—when the real root issue is pride. We get frustrated when we fail to gain victory over such sins, but the issue is not that we are not trying hard enough. It is that we are treating symptoms instead of the disease. Since the fall, we have all been born with the seed of pride planted in our hearts. Its roots run deep in our hearts and cause us to fight God for the supremacy of our lives. That’s why Scripture tells us that God opposes the proud (Jas. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). To be clear, God doesn’t oppose us and our pride because he’s threatened by us. He opposes, or resists, us because he knows the danger we are in. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. God’s not just patient with us—he’s aggressively patient with us. He actively shows us kindness, lovingly leading us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Pride, however, denies the need for such repentance. Pride lies to us, telling us we have no need for God or his grace. Pride tells us we’re just fine on our own.
Humility, on the other hand, is rooted in a deep-seated understanding of our complete dependency on God and his grace. It is not self-loathing or a low view of self, because that is, again, another form of pride. As Andrew Murray said, “The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all.” To be sure, true humility is risky. It requires us to be vulnerable. It requires us to expose ourselves to being taken advantage of by others. Most importantly, it requires us to put our trust in the one place it should have rested from the beginning—the goodness and sovereignty of the Father. And that’s why humility is Christ-like; it is an act of faith that reflects a complete trust in God and his sovereign plan and is manifested to the world in our obedience to him (Phil. 2:1-11). It is the attitude that has been gifted to us by God’s grace and that had been exemplified by our Savior. It is in humility that we lose the false-self that we’ve created and find our true-self, the self we’ve always longed for, in Christ.
- Consider the cultural pressure to “be true to yourself” or to pursue a healthy self-image. While we should certainly be appreciative of how God made us in his image, what are the dangers of such emphases on self?
- Consider the statement that pride is the root of many of the sins with which we struggle. Do you agree or disagree with this assertion? Why? How might pride be the ultimate root of some of the sins with which you struggle?
- How is being humble risky? Why might it be worth the risk?
- If you were to rate yourself on the humility scale, where would you rate yourself? Why? What proactive steps can you take to address this heart issue?