What is humility? Is it merely putting other's needs and desires ahead of my own? How does it relate to my relationship with God? In my reading through Philippians 2 I was struck with the thought that humility isn't simply about how I view others. It goes deeper than that, to how I view God.
Humility is basically the opposite of pride. Whereas pride is all about "me" or "I", humility recognizes my own weaknesses and looks to God for strength. In recognizing my own weakness and inadequacy I am motivated by God's love to serve and not by my own abilities.
Humility also relates to trusting God. If I am confident in my own strength and abilities then I will not trust God. However, if I am aware of my weakness and inadequacy then I am forced to trust God. In relation to my last post on trusting God, if I am honest with myself about my true ability to handle whatever situation I am facing, then I will humbly trust Him for the outcome rather than pridefully trying to make things happen the way that I want them to happen.
This is illustrated by Paul in Philippians 2:5-11 where he points us to the example of Christ. He is providing an example of what attitude we should have toward others as we "in humility consider others better than ourselves" (Philippians 2:3b, NIV) and "look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4b, NIV). Obviously, Christ gave up his status and honor as God in order to obey the Father, but he chose to do it in such a way that left him weak and vulnerable. That way was by living on this earth as a man, and being killed as a result. And when Christ had reached the point of ultimate human weakness, humbly submitting to the most brutal death that man could imagine, God stepped in and worked powerfully to raise Christ from the grave. As Paul writes, God exalted Christ to the highest place, that every knee will bow at his name. But, even this exaltation and worship of Christ is for the glory of God the Father.
In recognizing my own weakness and inadequacy before God, humility provides the healthy fear of God that keeps me from demanding my own way, but rather submitting to the truth that He shows me. In that humility and fear, if I trust God, he will work in me to produce Christ-like attitudes and actions for His glory. Paul explains this in verses 12 and 13 following his example of Christ.
Which brings me to what I have been wrestling with this week. I went to Ironwood Christian Camp for their singles retreat and the focus of the messages was the question "What am I doing that counts for God?" After the first message I felt pretty good about myself because it didn't deal with anything that I was struggling with. However, the second message brought a strong reminder of my inadequacy in serving and trusting God. Almost immediately I wanted to justify myself, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that I really had no excuse. And once I submitted to that truth, God began prompting me of how I should react to situations that I had been in and hadn't trusted him. Since then I have struggled to humbly trust God rather than pridefully tackle things myself, but when I have trusted him I have seen spiritual growth in my own life, small though it was.