I have to say that one of the most fragile things in our spiritual walk is humility because once you think that you have it, the moment that you think you are humble, it’s gone.

Humility is a trait that is desired & pursued by many for it is a trait that is admired & praised by many. That sounds kind of strange, doesn’t it? The logic of it should make us uncomfortable. To try to manufacture something that is praiseworthy when the very essence of humility is to lose sight of yourself.

The truth is we cannot pursue humility because the pursuit of humility is self defeating, and yet we try. We hear & see people’s feeble attempts at humility when they say things like:

  • It’s not me, it’s God, BUT…
  • I don’t mean to boast, BUT…
  • What I did isn’t important because it was God working through me, BUT…

Then we humbly fill in the rest with all that we have given up, sacrificed & painfully accomplished for the glory of God.

As my wife & I are getting ready for Taiwan, I’m realizing that my understanding of humility has been off. I too have been pursuing humility. In fact, it’s one of the 3 personal pursuits in my life. They are purity (holding to the purity of the gospel & God’s truth, trying to have the purest of motives & sexual purity), simplicity (living a simple life focusing on what I need rather than wanting what the world is telling me I need) & finally humility, that is be humble before God & men.

Therefore I tried to be humble. I tried. But humility is really a byproduct of something else, and we can’t pursue it directly. The question isn’t, “Have you achieved it or not?” In fact, the mere act of asking such a question disqualifies us. It’s like looking into a mirror. You just can’t get away from noticing yourself.

Humility is more like looking through a window that takes our vision away from ourselves to the beauty or the needs of the world beyond the glass. Placing our vision on something that is inconceivably greater than us & needs that are overwhelmingly beyond our abilities & resources compel us to let go of ourselves completely, then reach out to the One who is holding all things together.

Humility isn’t a trait, but it’s a place our Lord Jesus Christ takes us to.

  • It’s a place where the road isn’t nicely paved, rather its narrow road has valleys & mountains that test our endurance.
  • It’s a place where faith is stretched & much tears are shed.
  • It’s a place where you reach deep inside yourself, but find that there’s nothing you possess to overcome what is in front of you.
  • It’s a place of utter spiritual poverty.
  • But it’s a place where the words of your mouth rise from the core of your being without any pretense, self-deception or pride.
  • It’s a place of honesty.
  • It’s a place where Jesus truly becomes the Lord of your life.
  • It’s a place where the outcome does not matter because what I need the most, I already have in Christ.

It is this place of humility that Jesus wants to take us to, where God “gives grace to the humble (James 4:6),” that is, if we only allow Him to.

The truth is we don’t want to go to that place. Correction. We do want to get there. It’s just that we don’t want to go through the path that leads to it. We desire humility without the humiliation or afflictions that come with it.

But Gary Hardin explains in Holman Bible Dictionary, “In Old Testament thought, humility was closely associated with individuals who were poor and afflicted.” He continues by saying that such conditions inevitably led individuals to humble spirit that acknowledges one’s sinfulness & ultimately obedience & submission to God. This is why complacency is so frowned upon in the Bible because it never leads us to humble spirit.

Philippians 2:6-9 writes of our humble Savior.

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name.

In other words, Jesus allowed the will of God to unfold in His life, no matter how humiliating, degrading & painful it was so that He may arrive at a humbling place where submitting to God not only becomes the only option, but the best possible option.

Something about having reached that place matures us, make us secure, and makes our faith genuine & real. Having witnessed & experienced our Lord’s truthfulness, faithfulness & loveliness, and also understanding who we are in Him, not a whole lot matters other than loving Him. When we are in that place of worship, where everything is crystal clear of who God is & who we are, nothing in this world can offend you, threaten you or belittle you.

This is odd since finding ourselves in the lowliest place should make us inferior, small & insignificant, but the opposite occurs.

The reason why Jesus takes us to a place of humility is to lift us up just as God the Father has lifted Him up.

We should no longer strive to be humble lest we never arrive at that place. Instead we are to simply follow Christ’s steps no matter where they lead because before we become aware of what’s going on within us, we will find ourselves praising & worshipping God, who loves us & who is faithful.

May what we face continue to humble our spirits, that we may be lifted up close to the Father.