It’s hard to be humble

It is easy to be humble to those who are better than us, but it is not so easy to be humble to those who are less than us. Benjamin Franklin once said: “To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals is courtesy, and to inferiors is nobleness.” 

We’ve all heard the proverb, “Pride comes before a fall.”   When we boast about ourselves, we do feel better about ourselves, but only for a moment. Then the crash comes, it brings us back down to reality. Sometimes to where we actually should be. Ouch!

Then, there are times when I just take a lower position. There’s a feeling of safety. I didn’t have to elevate myself. Result was I didn’t have to protect that lofty position. Nothing or not much to fear.  There’s less of a distance to fall you know. 

It’s not always easy to be humble, especially when we know we are very good at what we do. Pride can slowly creep up on us. Trip us up. I know I constantly need God’s grace. Christ’s example of humility is good constant reminder for me.

When we boast beyond measure, there’s a fear of being exposed, and humiliated after being found out.  We might think to ourselves: “Oh, if they find out really who I am, they won’t respect me anymore.”  So we put up a false front and make others think we are really good.  Why do we do this?  Fear. 

Jesus Washing the Feet of the Disciples, by an anonymous Sicilian painter, early 1700s

Even when we do fail, God gives us chances to learn and re-learn.  If we fail, we can start again. Whenever I meet a truly humble person, I’ve often thought to myself, “I really like this person… He/she is so unpretentious.” I feel safe just being who I am; not wanting to pretend myself.

I’m reminded by 1 John 4:18 that says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (NIV).  I didn’t really understand this before, then realized another interpretation of this phrase. If we truly believed that others would love and accept us no matter what, no matter how weak or how poor we think we are, there would be no reason for us to fear. 

This is why Paul said to the Philippians:

Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil.2:2-5).

Jesus exemplified this to us through his life example.  This is something we could remember to continually confess and repent of.  It’s something that can easily sneak up on us.  As pride grows bigger…humility gets smaller.

In 1 Peter 5:5-7, Peter says:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”   Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Painting: This humbling gesture by Jesus was done by an anonymous painter. Very moving. Jesus’ disciples are in shock and disarray because their teacher/master is going beneath himself to serve his disciples. It really shows Jesus’ humility teaching by example.

Read a previous post on: Humility vs selfish ambition