The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

The Power of Humility

Posted on: July 25, 2016

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THREE WAYS TO TURN HUMILITY INTO STRENGTH

There is a difference between being weak and being humble. Weakness “gives in” because it doesn’t have the strength to resist. Humility “gives” because it believes that that is the surest way to bring about the highest good.

Humility is not considering oneself beneath everyone else. Humility is seeing oneself as God sees us… of inherent and infinite worth, but of no greater worth than anyone else. For the third week in a row, I repeat that this truth elevates us without inflating us and humbles us without debasing us.

There are three expressions of humility that turn humility into strength:

  1. Submission

There is power in the first expression of humility, submission. God has created us so that we “get” by “giving.” Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Husbands and wives “get” by “giving” to one another. Ephesians 5:25 says, “husbands, love your wives…” Ephesians 5:33 says, “Wives, respect your husbands…” As each spouse “gives” to the other, it encourages the other to “give” in return. This “mutual submission” is carefully explained in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, and is the basis for a strong and meaningful relationship.

The same is true between parents and children (Ephesians 6:1-4) and between masters/employers and slaves/employees (Colossians 3:22, 4:1)

Submission is really an expression of the most powerful concept in human relationships, The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” (Luke 6:31) As we treat others the way we want to be treated, it encourages them to do the same for us, it upholds our moral integrity, and it makes us spiritually and emotionally stronger.

  1. Repentance

There is also power in the second expression of humility, repentance. Eight of the most difficult, and yet most powerful words in the English language are: “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

In our culture, true repentance is rare. We tend to say, “I’m sorry if anything I did or said offended you.” However, this does not express true repentance. This puts the responsibility on the one sinned against.

In essence, it is saying: “Well, I’m not admitting to anything wrong, but if you got your nose out of joint anyway, I’m sorry about that.” You are really apologizing for the other person’s weakness. It is saying, “It’s your fault that you were offended.”

Sometimes if the offense isn’t too great, the other person might give us a pass when we sin against them without our expressing true repentance. But if we sinned on the level of a 10 and give a shallow apology on the level of a 2, the relationship may not be restored. To simply say “I apologize,” or “I’m sorry,” often leaves the relationship breached.  The other person might say or think, “Well you should apologize.”  Or, “Well, I’m sorry, too!”  This may leave the relationship unrestored.

We must express contrition on a level equal to the offense. If we show that we understand how deeply we hurt someone, that we are truly remorseful, and then ask to be forgiven, usually the other person will forgive us.  If they don’t, we have, nevertheless, done our part in attempting to restoring the relationship.  There may be nothing more we can do, but we will have a clear conscience, knowing we have done everything we could.

  1. Forgiveness

Finally, there is power in the third expression of humility, forgiveness. To forgive means that we cancel the debt the other person owes us, and accept the need to “let it go” emotionally, though that may take some time.  Forgiveness is an act of the will, but it sometimes takes the emotions a little while to follow.

We must forgive for three reasons:

  1. To maintain our relationship with the Lord. Matthew 6:15 makes it clear that the Lord does not forgive us and restore our fellowship with Him, unless we forgive others. This is not referring to salvation, but, as I said, to fellowship with our Heavenly Father.
  2. To maintain our relationship with others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”   It is inevitable that at some time we will be offended by someone that we are in an ongoing, close relationship with. Forgiveness is the only action in our control to repair the relationship.
  3. To keep from damaging ourselves. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” When we harbor sin, it makes us vulnerable to spiritual assault from the enemy of our souls, and is often a cause of spiritual weakness or downfall.

These facets of humility are simple, but not easy. It takes emotional health and spiritual security to express them consistently in all relationships. It’s a silly saying, but makes a good point:

“If you think meekness is weakness, try being meek for a week.”  ~  If you do, you’ll find it is not weakness. Rather, it takes great strength.

But, by the Lord’s grace, as these expressions of humility become part of our character, then God is honored, we are happier, our relationships are richer and more satisfying, our impact on others is greater, and non-Christians may be drawn to the Lord because of what they see of Him in us.


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