Humility is not the way of our world. Each of us is constantly encouraged by our culture to think or ourselves, have things the way we want them, make the best impression, spend much on pleasing ourselves and looking successful and so on.
The advertising industry relies heavily on making people feel dissatisfied and then directing them to spend in certain ways in order to resolve those feelings. So people in our culture are overwhelmingly self focused and urged to stay that way.
In that environment it is easy for Christians to be caught up in that self focused thinking and to automatically sideline God in their lives, putting achievement of cultural values first.
Yet the Bible calls us to live humbly before God.
“God has shown you, mankind, what is right, and what the LORD requires of you. It is to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1Peter 5:6
“As God’s elect, holy and greatly loved, activate a heart of compassion, kindness, humility of mind, meekness, patient enduring” Colossians 3:12
That call to humility makes us misfits in our own culture.
As a movie trailer might put it …. “In a world where self is king one group of people live in defiance of all self interest and humbly bow their lives before an unseen God. What will become of them?”
How would being humble before God make you a misfit? Here are some possibilities.
Imagine God asked you to do something or to live in a manner that cut across the cultural norm. That would make you a misfit.
Maybe that would be to sell all you have and give it to the poor.
“Jesus told him, To be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will create for yourself treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21
Maybe it would be to leave your comfortable environment and go to a place where your quality of life is compromised, such as the mission-field.
“Now the Lord told Abram, Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to a land I will show you” Genesis 12:1
Maybe it would be to forgive a great debt of money you could use to make yourself happy.
“The master summoned the servant and declared, You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?” Matthew 18:32,33
Maybe it would be to invite into your home those people no-one else wants to have around.
“When you put on a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, for they cannot repay you” Luke 14:13,14
Maybe it would be to devote yourself to helping the helpless, as Job did.
“I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. I was a father to the needy, And I investigated the case which I did not know.” Job 29:15,16
Maybe it would be to remain faithful to an unfaithful spouse, because that’s what you promised in your wedding vows.
“The LORD God of Israel says he hates divorce and when one covers violence with his garment, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore watch your spirit, that you don’t deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16
Maybe it’s that you respect your parents’ wishes and follow their guidance, even when you want to go your own way.
“Honour your father and mother (which is the first commandment carrying a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2,3
How would it go if you said to people, “I’m sorry, I can’t join you in your plans because my God doesn’t allow it.”
Some might react as if you are accusing them. So I like the statement one dad came up with for his children: “Others may do those things, but we may not”. That way there was no sense of judgement of others, but maintaining of godly standard in the home.
People don’t like it when you don’t go along with them, such as Jesus reflected in his commentary about His generation.
“They are like children in the marketplace calling to one another, We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.” Luke 7:32
Your culture will not readily respect you for having values and standards that differ from theirs. Most people don’t tolerate ‘difference’ very well. So when you live humbly before your God you will be a misfit.
You don’t have to own the latest and the greatest, or live in the right street, or drive the right car, or have the right fashion. It’s much more important that you live humbly before your God. It’s much more important that you humble yourself before Him and leave your reputation in the eyes of others in His hands.
It’s more important that you seek God’s Kingdom as your first priority, leaving the other things in God’s hands because you know He will look after them.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these other things will be provided to you.” Matthew 6:33
The key here is not what you ‘do’, but what is in your heart. Humble yourself, not by what you do, but firstly by presenting yourself to God as His servant and giving all of your life to Him, willing to do whatever He asks of you.
It begins when ‘We Humbly Bow’.