When I was talking to Linda Chamagne, who had the most radical story of how her life was changed around, I asked if she’d be willing to let me interview her so I could share it. I thought maybe she’d politely decline out of trying to be humble or something, but she said, “Absolutely. It’s not my story, it’s the Lord’s.” (See her story here!)
That thought perfectly captured the true posture of humility – something that I think many of us, in our genuine attempts to do the right thing, have missed. So let’s explore this further.
Moses vs. God
Y’all know Moses, right? God gave him the crazy assignment of pulling his nation out of slavery. So Moses says to God, ”Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
God’s response is kind of funny – He doesn’t say a word about about who Moses is. He just says, “I will be with you.” Moses pulls out a list of reasons of why he is incapable of doing the job, and God patiently brings him back to His point – that this isn’t actually about Moses. And in the same way, I’d like to suggest that your life is not about you or what your capabilities or failures are. It’s about Jesus – cuz He’s the one who wants to work through you.
Focusing on Failure
Andrew Farley writes this in his book The Naked Gospel: “Sadly, often we get so self-consumed that it’s nearly impossible to get Christians to talk about anything but our sins. It’s as if our sense of importance stems from the fact that we’re dealing with struggles. These struggles enable us to think about ourselves, converse with ourselves, and even obsess with ourselves – all with a spiritual label about on it all…Join the club! We all struggle. But we’re not here to focus on your issues. We’re here to focus on Jesus, because he’s worthy of our celebration.”
There are levels of truth, and I feel that a lot of false humility stems from lower-level truths. You say: “I can’t do anything by myself.” True. But you’re not by yourself. The higher truth is that Jesus says he will never leave you or forsake you, and that he’s given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the enemy. You say: “I’m a rotten sinner.” You were…but then God made you His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and has perfected you forever (Hebrews 10:14)! See what I mean?
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself or focusing on your shortcomings. It’s actually more humble to put God’s thoughts about you before your own ideas. And when you see yourself the way God does, you won’t need to be constantly scrutinizing yourself, which will free you to value others before yourself (Philippians 2:3).
Often when we face a struggle, temptation, or a problem in our life, we say that God gave us this situation to teach us something such as patience, joy, and the like. But let me ask you – what’s the core idea behind that thought? Again – that it’s all about you!
Now listen, I’m not saying that God doesn’t teach us things through our issues (hopefully that’s a no-brainer).
But let’s think in light of the entire world and eternity. Think of all the broken, hurt, and dying people in the world who have no one to love them. Does God want you to spend your entire earthly existence polishing your life till it’s squeaky clean while they go on lost forever? That doesn’t seem like humble thinking to me.
Bill Johnson said, “False humility will keep you from your destiny. True humility never will.” Here’s the key: when problems come up, you’ve got to go to the Good Shepherd and find out whether it’s from Him or the thief (who wants to stop us, remember?) and deal with them accordingly. Dan Mohler said this in a sermon once – “You’re looking at a man who doesn’t have any problems. I had one problem – I was separated from almighty God – and then Jesus came and fixed my eternal problem. Now I see every issue, scenario, family struggle, and church problem through Jesus!” It’s not arrogant to say you are blessed and problem-free if you recognize that it’s not of your own doing!
The reason humility values others first is not because it believes itself to be worthless, but because it realizes its blessing and wants to spread it to the world. You know who wrote that Moses was the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3)? Apparently Moses! And what would have happened if he had said, “Oh I shouldn’t write down all this stuff about saving the Israelites, I don’t want to brag.” I can easily forget every theological point in a sermon, but testimonies will stick with me. A city on a hill can’t be hidden, and shining is not pride. Why not? Because people need to see God at work. Linda Chamagne got that. Moses got that (eventually). So don’t hold out on people. Remember, it’s not about you or me. It’s about the Lord, and the simple fact that He says “I will be with you.”
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, God will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7)