He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Why is humility so important? Christians talk about it all the time. Sure, it makes for the development of good character and proper social customs, but is there anything of more significance that Christians need to be more aware of? I would argue that the practice and cultivation of humility is essential to our faith development. Humility is so important because of what is offers us. It creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God. Intimacy is important because it personalizes God’s presence and actions in our lives. Sometimes God can feel very distant. We can acknowledge that he is doing stuff in the world, but it may feel like it has nothing to do with us. Developing intimacy in our relationship with God personalizes or connects us to all of these great things that God is already doing all around us. Humility is a key component in creating the conditions for intimacy with God.
There is however some confusion about what humility is. Often people mistakenly think humility is the opposite of pride. Pride is thinking too highly of yourself. The opposite of that is low self-esteem (thinking too low of yourself). Humility is not self-deprecation. It is not putting yourself down or saying bad or untrue things about yourself. A humble person is someone who focuses on other people, seeing their needs met. Helping them to excel or succeed instead of yourself. Humility means being focused on others, not yourself. The opposite of humility is self-centeredness. The danger we face in self-centeredness is that when left unchecked or un-confronted in our lives it rots away at who we are and our ability to experience God and make good healthy decisions. In essence it destroys our ability to have intimate contact with the one true living God. Because self-centeredness can be so ingrained in who we are, we must take steps to root it out. We need to cultivate and model humility, for our benefit and for the benefit of those around us. The more we are committed to being humble, the greater and deeper our experience of God will be.
“Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
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