The Discipline of Humility

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Humility is a funny thing to focus on for a Spiritual Discipline.  In one sense, it’s pretty important because well, who wouldn’t agree that we are often selfish and need adjustment in this area? On the other hand by focusing on humility, we focus all of our effort on the self, which is the very thing we are trying not to do. You know what I’m saying?

I think the Spiritual Discipline of Humility, though can be described as knowing your humble position before God. If there is nothing else you get out of this post, I hope you come away with this truth.

There’s an interesting section of the Bible in James chapter 4:1-10 that I want you to read at this time. Verses 1-6 says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’

This section of the Bible is clear in that we as Jesus followers often don’t turn to a God-dependency and constantly return to self-dependency.  Some of us will find ourselves in situations of quarreling and coveting because of the desires that battle within us. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If we take our focus off ourselves and focus on God, who is our Father and our Provider, we allow for humility to step in. When we come to God in prayer asking for things, we may find that we are receiving because we asked with proper motives through a humble heart. When we ask with wrong motives it reveals self-dependency, an unbelieving heart or lack of faith.

So how do we start practicing the discipline of humility?  James 4:7-10 says:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

We need to come to God with a broken sense of pride, a focus of God-dependency and full of humility. We need to come knowing that He knows what is best for us and everything we need is found in Jesus. We are to humble ourselves (lower ourselves) so that God will lift us up. This is the best position to be in. When we are humble, we are useful to God and He is able to mold us and shape us into who He wants us to be.

So as you reflect on this idea of a Spiritual Discipline of Humility, ask yourself if you have been asking God with good motives, or if unknowingly (or knowingly for that matter) you’ve been asking with bad motives? What would bad motives look like in context of these verses? How about good motives? Make a discipline in your life of regularly asking yourself these questions about motives.

Then come to God in prayer and worship, humbling yourself to be in right relationship with Him. Remember that as you come near to God, He WILL come near to you, that’s a promise! Run to Him, coming as you are and allow Him to lift you up.

Wes Linde