The Measuring Stick
Some have it. Some don’t.
It is utterly profound, even powerful when witnessed. Likewise, it is painfully significant when absent.
I have been struck lately with how important humility is to our testimony. In recent conversations with friends going through difficult times, they described a paradox that left them confused- people close to them who professed to be mature believers yet their opinions/actions were more than questionable.
Conversations were described where there was a vast difference of opinion. Two sides, both professing Christians, yet miles apart in their perspective. The differences were not about the Bible or doctrine but more about whose opinion could be believed true on certain matters.
Essentially, one side had been wronged and the offender was trying to prove themselves “right” again. The weighty question looming in the minds of three different friends was whether their offender could be believed. Were they being truthful about their current state of purity, their intentions, their repentance over their wrongs committed?
How can we ever know what is truly in another person’s heart or mind?
It is easy to say the right words but how can we tell whether someone can be trusted? Believed? I think three scenarios are at play when trying to determine believability in another person’s intentions.
- They are being truthful.
- They are knowingly deceptive.
- They are unknowingly deceived.
Humility plays a key role in determining the difference between these three possibilities. As each friend described things said and done, I looked for clues that evidenced humility because that is the true mark of a believer in Christ. And why is that? Because humility IS Christlikeness at its core!Humility is Christlikeness at its core! Click To Tweet
What We Know From Scripture
The topic of humility permeates this time of year in my opinion. The Christmas story has this virtue throughout its timeline. One of the reasons that I am meditating on this topic came from last Sunday’s sermon about John the Baptist’s birth. We were covering Luke 1 when verse 66 humbled me to the core.
Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
As I read that verse, with the last part jumping out at me, I thought, “The Lord’s hand was with him …….. all the way to his beheading.”
Wow. That is a profound realization to consider. We tend to think how great it is to have the Lord’s hand upon us – our life, family, and ministry.
But look at the reality of it all. Yes, God’s hand was with him but that doesn’t mean it was all mountaintop experiences with loads of fruit and praise. It had huge costs at its core. And you know what it will take to be willing to pay that kind of price?
John the Baptist was just the man to answer this call for the kingdom. He goes on to utter the words himself about his priorities in John 3:30 ESV.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
John is speaking about his role compared to Jesus. As John was first on the scene preparing the way for the Lord, he always kept his ego in check. He knew the goal all along. Jesus would become greater and John would become less.
This begs the question in my heart and life-
Am I willing to become “less”?
As we live in this world, it is with a different agenda as Christians. I must be willing to not only become “less” for the kingdom purpose as John’s life exemplified but also in my personal relationships with others. Admittedly, I don’t begin to understand the kingdom plan and why it involves significant cost. I just know from the Bible that it does and I am no exception to the rule.
Am I willing to suffer? To live a life of sacrifice, denial, loss, or service for the sake of others? If I am walking in humility, then this will be more likely.
What about Jesus?
Of course, John wasn’t the only one choosing to live a life of humility. Jesus’ humility is described in Philippians 2:1-18. My favorite part is in verses 6-8.
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!
So we see how humility is at the heart of Christ as He came down to suffer, saving mankind from the ravages of sin and death. The rest of the passage above also describes how Paul was on the verge of losing his life for the sake of the Gospel. All three of these men lived with the mindset of being willing to deny themselves for the sake of God and others.
The Bible, along with church history, is filled with so many who were willing to decrease, some paying the ultimate price with their lives. So how can we proclaim Christ if we are not willing to humble ourselves?
Humility substantiates our claims of faith because as we follow Christ, we will be willing to become more like Him. It will be a sign of our maturing faith. The more mature a believer, the more humble they will become. It will be an undeniable progression in their character.Humility is a distinguishing characteristic of maturity in faith. Click To Tweet
How Humility Reveals the Person
Back to my 3 friends and each of their situations- how could I help them discern the intentions of someone claiming to be sincere in their uprightness before them? I advised them to look for evidence of humility in the lives of the ones pleading to be trusted. If humility was obvious in other areas of their speech and actions, then most likely they were genuine in their intentions toward them.
Humility marks a person without a doubt!
You may be able to fake uprightness or even a confession but eventually, humility will have to be seen for validation.
Faith is not for the fainthearted. It will take a lot of dying to self on our part to follow hard after Christ but it will be more than worth it one day so that is why we do not give up!
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:16-18 NIV