Joni Eareckson Tada on Humility

“Humility begins with seeing things as they are: God is great, and I am not. God is pure, and I am not. He is light, and the hollows of my heart are dark. He is wise, and I have miles to go. When I see things like this, I am on my way to humility. But humility will escape me if I make anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ my goal.”

From The Practice of the Presence of Jesus by Joni Eareckson Tada

For more about humility see these posts:

Andrew Murray on Humility

The Best Example of Humility

Humility and Grace

A Humble Word

“Please is a posture of humility, first and foremost. It doesn’t take anything for granted. Not a whiff of entitlement. It places high value on others. It creates a culture of honor, a culture of respect. Instead of tit for tat, please passes the peace.”

Mark Batterson, Please Sorry Thanks

For more posts about our words see:

Chrysostom’s words on wisdom according to Corinthians

The Devil’s “D” Words

A Prophetic Word

Epistemological Humility?

I love learning new words and interesting phrases, so when I came across this quote in the book I’m currently reading, I had to share. In addition, it speaks to last month’s topic, humility. In regard to this verse from Proverbs 3:

“Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”

the author states:

“There’s nothing in the broader message of Jesus’s teachings or in the rest of the Bible that encourages people of faith to neglect their minds. (however)…. we should ask God for help as we seek to use our brains and not overestimate our ability to comprehend truth or reality perfectly. It is a call for epistemological humility. (bolding added)

From Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation by Jon Ward

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy dealing with knowledge. In the context of this quote, epistemological humility is understanding that God is the source of true wisdom, and our understanding will never be complete. We must rely upon His Word, and His leading to inform us.

For more about knowledge see these posts:

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

The Difference Between Wisdom and Knowledge

Book Learning, Again

Tim Keller on Humility

The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.

Timothy Keller

For more about humility see these posts:

It’s Hard to be Humble!

Be Patient And Humble?

Remembering to be Humble

C. S. Lewis on Humility

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

For more on C. S. Lewis see these posts:

C. S. Lewis on our Union with Christ

The Making of C. S. Lewis by Harry Lee Poe–Book Review

C.S. Lewis on the Uncertainty of Life

Humility and Faith

There are a number of stories in the gospels which link humility with faith. Here are two:

In the 7th chapter of Luke, he tells us:

“Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death…” Luke 7:2

The centurion was so humble, he did not approach Jesus himself. He sent some of the elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to heal the servant. Then before Jesus entered his home, he sent friends to say:

“Lord do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore, I did not presume to come to you. But say the word and my servant will be healed. “Luke 7:6-7

The 7th chapter of Mark records another example. A Syrophoenician woman asked Jesus to cast unclean spirits from her daughter. At first, since she is a Gentile, Jesus tells her,

“… it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Mark 7:27

She replies:

“Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:29

I don’t know that these folks realized that Jesus was the Son of God, but they certainly recognized His stature was something they could not begin to approach. They had faith in His ability to heal, and they came to Him with reverence and a humble spirit. There are other examples — consider the women with the issue of blood, and the thief on the cross. We, too, should be humble. Jesus is not a bubble gum machine, a way for us to push the right buttons in order to get what we want. He is God, and he deserves not only our love, but our humble respect.

For more about faith see these posts:

Resilient Faith by Lewis and Sarah Allen–Book Review

By Faith

What My Faith Means to Me #3 continued

The Importance of a Team Member

Recently I served on a Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat team. Via de Cristo is a lay movement designed to encourage leadership in the local congregation through attendance at a three-day retreat. On the retreat there are 15 talks and group discussions about what it means to be a Christian in the church and in the world. New attendees are called pilgrims. At our first team meeting, we received the following information about what it means to be part of the team. This could apply to many other Christian ministries, and if you take the instructions seriously, it is quite humbling. Remember, we’re here on earth for one purpose — to glorify and serve God and others. Is that evident in your life?

Why am I here Lord?

  1. I’m here to praise God and to do God’s holy work here on earth.
  2. I’m here to imitate Jesus Christ and be a window to the pilgrims.
  3. I’m here to pray and make sacrifices for the entire team and the pilgrims.
  4. I’m here to help establish a Christian community by bringing Jesus Christ to these three days and by accepting the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  5. I’m here to know the intent of the talks and to help the speaker accomplish it by guiding and directing discussion at the table.
  6. I’m here to display Christian discipleship–love of my fellow human beings, acceptance of other persons and individuals by leadership (not domination) and showing my concern for others.
  7. I’m here to demonstrate true leadership–not glory seeking but in loving concern; to be a guide, not a counselor, to be a listener and to be tolerant.
  8. I’m here so that when these three days are over the pilgrims will be able to say of the team members, ‘I came looking for Christ and I found Christ in this team.’
  9. I’m here to ask humbly that God’s will be done — not mine.
  10. I’m here, Christ, to submit my heart and soul to you so that our love will bloom and grow.

For more about Lutheran Via de Cristo see:

What is Via de Cristo?

Remembering My Via De Cristo Weekend

My Via de Cristo Experience

A Humble Prayer

“O Lord, my God! Thou art all good things. And who am I, that I should dare to speak to Thee (Gen 18:27)? I am Thy poorest, meanest servant, and a vile worm, much poorer and more contemptible than I know or dare express.

Yet do Thou remember me, O Lord, because I am nothing. I have nothing, and I can do nothing. Thou alone art good, just and holy. Thou canst do all things, Thou suppliest all things, Thou fillest all things, only the sinner Thou leavest empty. ‘Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies.’ (Psalm 25:6), and fill my heart with Thy grace, Thou who willest not that Thy works should be void. How can I bear up myself in this miserable life, unless Thou strengthen me with Thy mercy and grace?

‘Hide not thy face from thy servant’ (Psalm 69:17); delay not Thy visitation; withdrawn not Thy consolation, lest my soul become as a thirsty land unto Thee (Psalm 143:6). ‘Teach me to do thy will’ (Psalm 43:10); teach me to live worthily and humbly in Thy sight; for Thou art my wisdom, who dost truly know me, and didst know me before the world was made, and before I was born in the world.”

From Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

For more prayers see:

Memorial Day Prayers

A Funeral Prayer

Eleanor Roosevelt — A Wise Prayer

Humble Enough to Ask for Help

My husband and I recently watched the movie, A Man Called Otto. It’s not a Christian film, but it made some good points. The protagonist, Otto, is a fairly recent widower. Then he is forced into retirement. He has no children. With little reason to keep living, he tries, and fails to commit suicide–more than once. About this time, a young couple moves into his neighborhood. On several occasions, they ask for his help, which he grants, although in a grumpy, begrudging way. They persist in befriending him by bringing him food and inviting him to their home. Gradually they win him over, and he reconnects with others in the community as well.

Of course, the most obvious theme is that we humans are made to be in relationship with others. The Bible tells us not to neglect meeting together. We are also instructed to care for and help one another — loving our neighbors as ourselves–even when they are cranky old men like Otto. Watching this movie, we may be tempted to focus on the “good deeds” of the young people who continued to reach out to Otto, even when he behaved rudely. They didn’t let his behavior affect their love.

However, what struck me most about the film was the willingness of Otto’s neighbors to ask for his assistance. We all like to be givers, but we are less willing to be vulnerable and admit that we need help sometimes, too. What changed Otto’s attitude, what made him want to live again, was the sense that he was needed. This is a lesson we all need to learn. It’s the lesson of humility.

For more about relationships see these posts:

Relationships! Relationships! Relationships!

Godly Relationships

Twelve Steps for Relationships

Andrew Murray on Humility

“Let us at the very outset… admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous as pride. And acknowledge that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God will reveal how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how powerless we are to obtain what we seek. We must study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness.”

Andrew Murray

For more about Andrew Murray see these posts:

Like Christ by Andrew Murray–Book Review

Andrew Murray on Unity in Christ