Since Valentine’s Day was just two days ago, I’ve been thinking about the topic of love. This morning I read a devotion in Our Daily Bread titled, “Divided in Love,“ by Leslie Koh, a journalist from Singapore now working at Our Daily Bread Ministries, and this is what he wrote:
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. —Ephesians 4:2
When public debate erupted over a controversial Singapore law, it divided believers with differing views. Some called others “narrow-minded” or accused them of compromising their faith.
Controversies can cause sharp divisions among God’s family, bringing much hurt and discouraging people. I’ve been made to feel small over personal convictions on how I apply the Bible’s teachings to my life. And I’m sure I’ve been equally guilty of criticizing others I disagree with.
I wonder if the problem lies not in what or even in how we express our views, but in the attitudes of our hearts when we do so. Are we just disagreeing with views or seeking to tear down the people behind them?
Yet there are times when we need to address false teaching or explain our stand. Ephesians 4:2-6 reminds us to do so with humility, gentleness, patience, and love. And, above all else, to make every effort “to keep the unity of the Spirit” (v. 3).
Some controversies will remain unresolved. God’s Word, however, reminds us that our goal should always be to build up people’s faith, not tear them down (v. 29). Are we putting others down to win an argument? Or are we allowing God to help us understand His truths in His time and His way, remembering that we share one faith in one Lord? (vv. 4-6). (Quote source here.)
Zeroing in on the key issue, Koh states, “I wonder if the problem lies not in what or even in how we express our views, but in the attitudes of our hearts when we do so. Are we just disagreeing with views or seeking to tear down the people behind them?” It seems as if humility is a dying art in our society today.
In a blog post published on August 23, 2016, titled, “Is narcissism becoming a virtue or whatever happened to humility?” by Brian Harris, Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group, a church, school and community center planting movement based in Perth, Australia, he writes:
The answer appears to be yes. A study by Hoover (2007) researching 16,000 students between 1982 to 2006 found that the average score on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory increased 30% in that time. Given that this study is now aging, I suspect the rise would be even more dramatic if tested now. Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell have written a book, “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement,” …which clearly chronicles our increasing obsession with self. The same book also helpfully distinguishes between self esteem and narcissism, recognizing that a realistic and valued sense of self is important, but that it is at risk of being tipped over the line in our time.
What’s wrong with narcissism… Many things, but here are a few:
- An inflated sense of self sees us magnifying trivia. Everything about me must be awesome – and if it isn’t that’s tragic. But if everything is awesome, how do we differentiate and nuance things. How do we cope with disappointment? How do we face our shadow side? And how do we celebrate the ordinary?
- Narcissism blinds us to sin (and I mean sin in the biblical sense of being people who miss the mark of God’s goal for us). It stops us from seeing our need for forgiveness and redemption.
- A world that is about me, myself and I quickly becomes too small.
- The order is wrong. Jesus taught that if we are willing to lose our life, we will find it. Paradoxical though this is, it is true. When it is all about me, something inside of me dies.
- I become a consumer of services to which I feel entitled (because I matter so much). I become fixated on my rights, and usually gloss over my responsibilities.
- Self preoccupation blinds me to the needs of others.
- It makes me indifferent to the stories of others–the only story I want told is my own.
- I place my confidence in myself. I want my world to be about me. Worshiping Jesus and having him at the center quickly disappears from my agenda.
It is never enough to simply tut tut about a social trend. What can be done about it?…
Could it be that the rise of narcissism is a comment on a world that has become too small… a world that has lost a narrative that can inspire, and challenge and motivate… a world that can make me bigger by getting me to move beyond my own very limited parameters? Perhaps we need fresh reminders that while God assuredly loves me, a God sized love actually encompasses the whole world. There are many stories to be told, and even more waiting to be written. And my role does not have to be the lead character in each. Simply cheering on the sidelines, and celebrating a story that has nothing to do with me, can be a helpful start. (Quote source here.)
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” –C.S. Lewis
What ever happened to humility? Once valued in our culture, humility just isn’t practiced at all. Instead, we have a self-centered, chest-thumping, braggadocios, pat yourself on the back generation with an exaggerated self-importance.
The NFL running back, who years ago would credit the linemen for their great blocking and opening the way for his touchdown runs, will thump his chest and tell you how great he is, the best running back ever!
The mid-level boss at work takes credit for every accomplishment in his department never complimenting his staff for work well done.
The musician who interrupts an awards presentation to tell the recipient that someone else is better than she is.
The gossip, who is constantly putting down friends in an effort to make herself look better.
Yes, it’s true, humility is the ugly duckling of virtues, lost in a quagmire of self-centered bravado. This foolish pride is hubris and humility is the anecdote for hubris.
Somehow, over time, we have come to believe that humility is a lack of self-confidence, that humble people are shy or timid. Nothing could be further from the truth!
That’s why C.S. Lewis’ quote is so important. Humility understands that giving credit to others for their achievements doesn’t diminish our accomplishments. We gain respect, by being humble. By simply shifting the focus away from self to others we make a powerful statement of leadership. Try it sometime, and you will see the power of humility.
So, what are some examples of modern day humility? What are a few simple things we can do to be more humble?
- Try opening a door for someone, or giving up your place in the checkout line to the woman with a fussy child.
- Clean up the coffee spills in the lunch room at work even though you don’t drink coffee.
- When being honored for an accomplishment, use the opportunity to thank the people that helped you get there.
- Cook a meal for the woman down the street who recently lost her husband, or invite her to lunch.
- Instead of donating money to the local soup kitchen, volunteer to wait on tables once a month.
I am sure you can think of many others.
As Christians, we don’t have to look very far for examples of humility. Jesus himself was born in a stable, had few possessions, and no place to live. He led a humble life, but changed the world.
If we realize that our goal on this earth is not how great we can become, but how much of a difference we can make in the lives of others, then we will begin to understand the virtue of humility.
Let’s practice humility! (Quote source here.)
Humility is a simple human characteristic that is lacking in today’s society. We live in a world where it is “all about me”, from the upkeep of our physical appearances, our reputations on social media, self-gratifying behavior and the obsession with money and consumerism, it is so easy to lose touch with placing others before ourselves. With an astonishing rise in divorce rates and an increase in individuals choosing to be single, we as humans, must go back to the basics of kindness and humility.
It is not always about you
To be humble or practice humility means to value other people and their opinions without indulging in self- pride. Humility is the opposite of boastfulness, arrogance and vanity. Oftentimes we are so concerned with winning the argument, making a point, being right and correcting other people that we forget to listen to others, and to allow the unimportant things to dissipate. Yes, there will always be that antagonizing individual in your life who always has to prove their point, but it is your choice to engage in their argumentative or opinionated behavior. You have the right to walk away from the conversation or to simply just agree with them in order to create peace. You always have the choice to practice humility even in the presence of chaos.
In a world filled with self-aggrandizing online dating profiles, it may be surprising to learn that humility is actually a direct expression of an individual who is truly confident and expresses a high self-esteem. How many of you have gone a first date where the other individual talked about themselves the entire time and did not ask you a single question? By leaving ‘you’ out of the date just a little bit, you allow yourself the freedom to discover whether this is someone you should be with. Or what about that one friend who is always telling you about his or her own problems but never takes the time to ask how you are doing? Or that family member who never stops talking about a past unresolved issue? We all love to “toot our own horns” however it is not attractive, in any way.
Staying humble to keep love alive
A humble person does not always have to prove their point, or be right or lead the conversation because they are truly comfortable with who they are. Being vulnerable and showing humility to a romantic partner can allow for better communication and trust to develop in the relationship. Being aware of what you don’t know and asking questions allows for learning to take place within a relationship and humble individuals are more likely to admit their faults, apologize and practice forgiveness than an individual who is boastful or who is a narcissist. Many conflicts and arguments within relationships can be easily fixed however the majority of individuals are more concerned with proving a point and being right rather than listening to the needs of their partner and trying to understand the underlying catalyst that initiated the argument in the first place. The goal of a relationship is to grow with your partner, not fight against them or come out winning. Practicing humility requires the following attributes:
In terms of dating and relationships, there is a lid that fits every pot however it is easier to find the lid for your pot if you’re not blowing off every lid with steam, hot air and arrogance. (Quote source here.)
As a last reflection for this blog post on the topic of love and humility, let’s consider what James 4:1-12 (MSG) states:
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with these words from 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 (MSG): If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love . . .
Never . . .
Dies . . . .
YouTube Video: “Get Together (Try to Love One Another Right Now)” (1967) by the Youngbloods: