But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6
Maintaining the virtue of humility is a bit like trying to carry home a handful of sand. With every movement and action taken more of the tiny crystals slip from our grasp and fall away, leaving only a residue of what we thought we had. The disciples were not exempt from the nefarious affects of pride; they had a difficult time with this one too. It appears they often argued over their positions, and who was to be the greatest. There they were in the room, after having tromped their way afoot for miles. Everyone’s feet were caked with dirt. Someone had to be low man on the totem pole and wash the feet. Who would it be? Jesus knew precisely what was needed. “The greatest among you is the least.”
“Um, come again, Jesus?”
“Allow me to demonstrate”
Taking off his outer garment and draping a towel over his shoulder, the Master and Creator of the universe knelt in servitude and performed the most menial of tasks. He washed His disciple’s feet.
“Now you go and do likewise,” spoke the Master. “If you want to be great, then be the servant of all.”
The disciples wanted to know about rank and position. Jesus indicated the way to spiritual authority, which will determine the positions they, and we, shall occupy throughout eternity.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I hope to get this thing about humility down pat. But I’ve learned there’s just not a lot I can do that does not lead to pride of one sort or another. About the time I am standing tall spiritually, I become proud of my maturity in the faith. The sand starts slipping between my fingers. So here’s what the Lord has taught me: Humility is grown through service to others and to God, and it’s all in the way I go about doing such.
Here’s an excerpt on this topic from my upcoming book.
Humility in Service (From Chapter 8)
Humility is nurtured within believers through service to God and others. Yet, service also sets the stage for the very opposite of humility: pride. The lust of the flesh craves recognition for services rendered. I’ve seen this difficulty within myself. Setting out to do a good work of service, whether in the church or the community, I found myself letting people know what I was doing in a way that made sure they knew it was me who was doing it. Maybe it would be a subtle hint of my actions in a tweet, or through a facebook post, or even in conversation with other Christians. Nothing blatantly aggrandizing of course, but enough for me to look back and realize what had taken place. Hmm, it appears my servitude produced within me a form of pride over my spiritual maturity—quite counterproductive.
In seeking to attain the spiritual virtue of humility we can never seem to appropriate it. Yet, there is something Jesus said which reveals a means of developing humility through service. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4
Serving in secret will begin nurturing the blessed virtue of humility.
Some will call humility a discipline. In the final analysis, however, humility is something that is not attainable through human effort. It is a change that takes place in the heart when we practice our servitude in secret. So servitude is the discipline, and humility a product of it. As we serve by filling needs, performing the service itself becomes its own glorious reward. The inner satisfaction of knowing that God is working through you, performing tasks nobody is aware of, except for you and God… This brings a joy that springs from deep in the innermost depths of the soul, exploding up and outward. The satiating effect of this anonymous work of love fuels our continued service, and in the process molds a humble spirit.
We must not fail to also mention the need to guard against self-deprecation. That’s swinging the pendulum too far. Having been baptized into Christ and seated with Him at the right hand of the Father, to demean ourselves is to belittle Christ who is in us, and we in Him. Obviously a balance must be struck. Besides, we are to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and thus glorify our Father in heaven. So how do we perform our works in a manner that glorifies God and spotlights all that He has done in us, and is doing through us, without being prideful?
Using a phrase my grandmother often used, it seems we’ve gotten ourselves into a pickle. But it’s not as vinegary of a situation as we may think. As always, when speaking of spiritual things, it all comes back to our state of mind and heart in all that we do, or refrain from doing. What is our true motive for our action or inaction? Well, just ask yourself. The inner you knows the answer. But if not, the Spirit will surely reveal your heart to you. “Am I serving others and serving God for the credit I will receive?” Or, “Am I doing this simply out of love, because I want to be of service—because there is a need and I can fill it?”
It’s okay to let your works be known if you are doing it with the right attitude and motivation. The way in which you present to others what is being done will be dramatically changed when done correctly. Jesus will receive the credit, because you are highlighting the truth. It is Him, or more precisely, His Spirit who is directing your actions, driving the work forward while providing the necessary strength, wisdom and materials needed. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need; you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8 (End Excerpt)
When Jesus was on earth He credited all of His work to the Father as an example to us on how to go about getting it done. I love my Appalachian Mountain friends who have a wisdom that goes far beyond some of the CEO’s of major corporations, with phrases such as, “Don’t toot yer own horn.” So, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy I say, “Git er done!”