This article was originally posted on my Facebook weekly Sunday notes feature on Sunday 13th June 2010
OK, I think it is quite clear what today’s Bible note should be about – the crucial Christian principle of humility! Personal confession follows Bible passage…
There is one key Bible passage concerning humility, demonstrated by the “Daddy” of them all, that is Jesus Christ Himself:
5. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6. who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7. but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
9. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Tosin’s personal confession
OK, I have to admit that humility is not a natural strength of mine AT ALL (and that is not designed to make me seem humble, by acknowledging my lack of humility – sometimes Christians do that, and I don’t know who they imagine could be impressed by that) – I think it is a fact that most people who really know me would agree with.
However, I think humility is one of the most important Christian disciplines, especially for people who truly aspire for greatness and excellence with God and in the Christian faith (and yes, that would be me), and I so, so, so deeply admire people who demonstrate genuine humility. For instance, in our local church, there are 3, or possibly 4 (5?) individuals whom I have identified as being simply outstanding concerning humility. Not that anyone else is bad, or proud, but these individuals are simply outstanding. And despite all our naughty AuntyNaija jokes, they are all male, and they are all Nigerian. (“And are any of these individuals single?” you ask cheekily. Honestly! What a cheeky question!) (There is a sixth, a woman, who is kinda part of our church and also at the same time not a part – namely, our Pastor’s wife, currently based in Aberdeen to look after their new baby..)
For myself, I am trying to be humble (when I remember) and I also try to pray for humility (again, when I remember).
I guess one of my biggest issues has been working out what humility actually it. I now know it is not belittling myself. No-one one is ever (again) going to succeed in making me say that I am not good at something, when I know I am – simply not the way I was brought up. (Unfortunately for the cause of humility, I was brought up to think very highly of myself, and to expect to excel at many things. If anyone should accidentally or innocently suggest anything to the contrary, I would normally tend to express what I believe about myself, very, very clearly.)
Actually, in some ways the Christian faith might seem to not help with humility, because it makes all these extravagant claims for ordinary people, about knowing the All-Mighty God, being His daughter (someone once told me that in Christianity God does not have daughters; technically we (Christians) are all His sons, and thus entitled to inherit from Him, even in the male-centred Middle-Eastern context that the Bible was written in…), walking in supernatural power.
I now think that humility is about lowering myself before God, knowing that ultimately everything is about HIM, not about me. It is about lowering myself to obey His commands about attitudes to cultivate about myself and others. While yes, God gives absolutely everyone different skills and talents, it is never my place or anyone else’s to boast about these gifts because ultimately they did not come from me; they are instead gracious gifts from a loving God. These gifts are not for us to show off with, but they are intended for us to graciously serve one another with, not making other people feel bad because they have different talents, or making it out that anyone’s mix of skills makes them superior to anyone else.
So yes, if I did single-handedly cause a football team to beat their opponents in a World Cup game through prayer, it would never be appropriate to claim the glory for myself, as all the power to actually bring about that result would ultimately be from God. (Biblically, I believe it is very possible for a single person’s prayer to have this power, possibly even against the prayers of the rest of the world, even to the same God; however in this case it is clearly very, very, unlikely and all the more so as I was simply too distracted to pray with any concentrated focus).
The Bible makes it clear that EVERYTHING we have is from God, including power in prayer. Absolutely NOTHING ultimately originates from us. When we pray, we are just making ourselves available to be used as His instruments or “vessels” to bring about what He wants on planet earth, and even that desire to make ourselves available also comes from Him….! 😉