Humility is BOLDNESS. It speaks from a pure conscience that gives sincerity to its deeds. In humility Jesus could purge the temple (Matthew 21:12), and recognize and expose hypocrites, fools and Pharisees (Matthew 23). I am referring to spiritual boldness. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Read on and in verse 29 it says “They prayed for boldness”, and in verse 31 it plainly states how they “Spake the Word of God with boldness”. Little wonder that in verse 33 Luke records that “Great grace was upon them all.”
Can you envision humility leading, undertaking a great enterprise, being enthusiastic, determined, and dynamic? Humility will speak up or shut up, not according to some pre-determined signal or plan, but according to the need of the moment. We have misunderstood this marvelous virtue so long, that we often install those incapable of following Christ, much less of leading men, in places of authority. “I know he is not a leader, but he is such a humble man” only illustrates our lack of understanding. Humility is leadership. It is this kind of bold and decisive action taken by those who have so forgotten themselves (or the polls), that they always stand ready to act in the welfare of others.
Humility is teachable. Next time you are around the children’s room, pick up their play-dough. Move it in you hands and see how it responds to the warm vacillating action of the fingers. Squeeze and press it tight within the fist and open it only to find the imprint of your hand within the clay. Now look it right in the eye and say, “This is what God really wants me to be!” Humility is personified in the clay that is movable, pliable, changeable, and moldable – yes, above all these, TEACHABLE. “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the author of salvation to all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Humility makes one a learner in all of life. Wise men make mistakes. Fools make the same mistake twice. A humble man will learn from the mistakes of others.
Humility is not taught in a book. It is learned in life. It is not in thinking too highly of self, nor in deprecating self – humility does not think of self.
Humility risks humiliation. Peter said to Christ, “No sir, you’ll never wash my feet” (John 13:8 Modern version). Peter was a proud man. Pride neither serves nor will it be served. Humility is total risk. It is a Lenny Skutnik who saved the stewardess from certain death in the frozen chilly waters of the Potomac. A large crowd has assembled. Priscilla Tirado was drowning and hundreds just stood and watched. Air Florida (Flight #90) had gone down almost in sight of the Capital. On that January day (13th), one man moved. He was not the professional. The life line from the helicopter had failed. All hope was gone till Lenny hit the water. Weeks later, our great President Reagan, in a joint session of congress pointed to the left balcony and asked Lenny to stand. He recalled the heroic rescue and with the applause ringing through the hall, he saluted Lenny. Simple humility that is total risk is a marvel. Lenny was a clerk in a law office.
Humility is SERVANTHOOD. This kind of service forgets that it serves but never forgets to serve. It forgets it gives, but never forgets to give. Jesus taught, “If any man desires to be first, the same shall be last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Truly this is the highest expression of self-forgetfulness. Humility is servanthood.
Humility is unbeatable. If you had a calibrated scale of one to one hundred. When humility is at the top, you are almost unembarassable. When humility is at the bottom, the slightest offense becomes a Federal case, appealing it to the highest court.
Perhaps this is why Jesus began by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God”. The other cheek, the second mile and giving the inner coat is not something done in timidity or by accident. It chooses the right which is above all other rights, the right to forfeit its rights and serve others. In essence it is boldness – in attitude it is teachable and by its divine nature, it risks itself in serving others. It has strange powers and recalls what Solomon said, “By humility and the fear of God, are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4)