By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Philippians 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves." Yikes, that verse stings! Selfish ambition is the default response for humans. We want to protect ourselves, be the ones to excel, and we want to be heard. It's so hard to live against these impulses. We all can relate when Paul said I do the things I don't want to! (Romans 7:15-20)
Yet, God calls us to practice humility. We are to see others as made in his image, valuable, worth encouraging, and most of all, worth serving. We are not meant to always be at the center of our lives. Humility is having a modest view of your own importance. It's not self-hate. You can be confident and humble. It's to see yourself in context, as a part of a family, community, workplace, marriage, and more.
When we begin to overly focus on our failures, we fall into a different sort of pride that is hyper-focused on our own abilities or lack of ability in a situation. We were not created to have all the answers or all the skills. Each person is different with individual strengths and weaknesses, and accepting how we have been created is a part of a humble life too.
What are some steps we can take to counteract our self-obsession? To see ourselves with a proper view of our place in this world? Here are some ideas from the Bible:
1. Serve Others with Love
Galatians 5:13 says, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." God, by his grace, has set us free! That freedom tears away the narrative that we are useless, broken, and lost. It gives us a new story in which we are called forgiven sons and daughters of God. God knows that this freedom is a special gift and that we must use it wisely.
God's word encourages us to take the freedom and other spiritual gifts we have been given and serve others when we use them. Service helps us see ourselves in the proper context. We see our needs, desires, gifts, talents, and those of others around us. Service allows us to be the answer to prayer for someone else! How cool is that!
2. Study God's Word
One of the most amazing things about God writing a book to share his love with us and reveal his identity to humanity is that it creates this incredibly real story that we can see ourselves in. It doesn't matter if I am studying the Psalms, reading the Beatitudes, or digging into the great miracles that happened in Exodus; in each piece of Scripture, I can learn and see myself in the story. When I read God's Word, I can see how the lack of faith of the Israelites in the desert got in the way of seeing God's promises fulfilled for the first generation freed from slavery. I, too, often struggle with believing what God says. How much am I missing out on because of my lack of faith?
His story reminds us that humanity is so limited in our ability. We quickly forget all God has done for us. Reading the Bible helps us stay focused on the truth, which he reveals to us differently in every season of life. Studying the Bible also reminds us that we were made with a much bigger purpose than ourselves. We were made to worship God and to love others. When we focus our lives on these two things, we can practice humility much more naturally.
3. Live Reverently Before God
The Bible tells us we must live with the "fear of God." Fear sounds like a scary word today, but it means we are called to live humble lives before God. My son is researching Isaac Newton for school. One quote from Newton says that just the human fingerprint should be enough to convince you that God exists. He lived with the fear of the Lord. He understood that God's power, intelligence, ability, and creativity exceed our wildest imaginations. Creation is so complex, perfectly orchestrated, and filled with such beauty…this could not be an accident!
We consider others better than ourselves quite simply because God tells us to. When we live humbly and obediently before the Lord, much of our actions come from a heart to follow him. He tells us to seek humble, quiet, service-filled lives, so that is what our pursuit should be. A life of reverent obedience to the Lord is a humble one.
4. Embrace Self-Care and Intentional Living
This one may feel counterintuitive, but it's a lesson I've learned repeatedly as a Mom and wife. When I am completely tapped out, I am terrible at remaining humble and kind. I become short-tempered, self-focused, and impatient. Allowing my physical or mental health to deteriorate results in me becoming more of a burden to those I want to consider better than myself. We can't always control what happens to our bodies and minds, but living with intentionality, doing our best to nurture healthy habits, and creating rhymes in our lives that include rest can go a long way in protecting ourselves from burnout and pain.
The Bible teaches that we are to rest weekly and that our bodies are a temple. Honoring God and others includes caring for yourself. Remember, humility is not martyrdom; it's a modest view of your own importance. You matter. God loves you. He also loves your neighbor. You're called to care for both yourself and for that neighbor too. The story of your life is meant to be bigger than just you!
Humility, for me, feels like something I struggle to get just right. I'm either too focused on others or too focused on myself. It all depends on the day. Thankfully, God is patient and kind with us and continues to teach us his ways and show us his path. When we surrender our hearts to Him, we will continue to grow in humility and grace.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.
LISTEN: Being Complete in Jesus (Understanding Matthew 5:21-48)
Hearing Jesus is a devotional journey through the gospels, where we explore the teachings of Jesus chapter by chapter. If you're seeking to live a life that reflects God's, this podcast is for you.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
WATCH: 10 Sins Christians Downplay (and Why They're So Destructive)
Stock Footage & Music Courtesy of Soundstripe.com Thumbnail by Getty Images