Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
April 22, 2012
Does the practice of humility
make sense in today’s world?
Go to church and you are likely
to hear a preacher recommend humility. The preacher may use the familiar line
from the Letter of James to back up his idea: “Humble yourselves in the sight
of the Lord and he shall lift you up.”
But does the practice of humility
help you achieve your goals in today’s world? Is humility a pathway to success?
Make a list of successful people and you find that most of them are anything
but humble. They are proud or as we often say, they are “full of themselves.”
So is the preacher who encourages
humility living in the real world? Or is he pushing a sentimental idea that is
actually not very useful?
Before we decide that humility is
useless perhaps we should look around us for examples of people who apparently
benefit from practicing humility. Can
you think of people who are not “full of themselves” and are good role models
One person who comes to my mind
is an American businessman who is an acquaintance of mine. He is an example of
what I think it means to “humble yourself in the sight
of the Lord.” Consider his experience.
This man was invited to serve on
a Humanitarian Aid Team that journeyed from the United States to Central Asia.
Their mission was to share business expertise with business leaders in faraway
Uzbekistan. He was advised that he would have to pay his own expenses for the
trip, approximately $3500.
The idea seemed preposterous. He
did not have the money to pay his way but he was unable to dismiss the idea.
The more he prayed about the trip, the more he began to feel that God wanted
him to go. Finally, he gave up, promising the Lord he would go – if the Lord
provided the money.
When he shared the proposal with
his pastor and key leaders in his church, they not only encouraged him to go,
but to take his teen-aged son along with him. Within two months, more than
seven thousand dollars had been raised, passports and visas secured, and all
arrangements made for a trip halfway around the world!
What his friends did not know was
that the man was scared to death of making the trip. “I feared that I would
never see my family again, that my son and I would die in a plane crash
thousands of miles from home,” he confessed later.
Nevertheless, despite his fear,
he decided he had to obey God. Even if
it cost him his life, he believed God wanted him to go with the team to offer
what he could in the service of others.
“Once there, however,” he shared
after returning home, “I realized that God wanted me to make that trip so He
could bless me. I was not there to be a blessing to others but to be blessed by
“The people we visited in that
poor country honored me and my son by sharing with us the best they had to
offer – in food, hospitality and friendship. We traveled to a remote village
where I discovered that I was the first American those villagers had ever seen.
They honored me because I cared enough to come and share helpful ideas with them,”
“But it dawned on me that it was
really God who was honoring me; he was honoring my obedience.” Tears streamed
down his face as he said, “I realized that the kindness I was shown by these
humble Asian people was actually the grace of God.”
“Had I not obeyed God, I would
have missed this unbelievable blessing,” he concluded.
This man is an example of genuine
humility. He humbled himself before God. His experience convinces me that the
practice of humility really does make sense.
The Bible warns us against
foolish pride and against thinking more of ourselves than we ought to think.
The Bible reminds us that if we exalt ourselves we will be humbled and if we
humble ourselves we will be exalted.
One way to practice humility is
to remember that you are not God and thus not the judge of everyone else. Pride
is a dangerous attitude. We are all prone to think and talk about what we will
do tomorrow though none of us knows how many tomorrows we shall have.
When I was hospitalized, not sure
whether I would live or die, I made a new surrender of my life to God. As best
I knew how I humbled myself before the Lord and said, “Father, my life is in
your hands. If you are ready to take me home I am ready to go. Deliver me from
fear and give me peace. If you give me
an extension of time, I will do my best to use every moment to serve you as
long as I have breath. ”
That was my prayer in a time of
crisis. But it should be my daily prayer for I need to live daily in humble
submission to God, pleading for grace to serve him until he calls me home.
Back to the question: Does humility make sense? Of course it does. The practice of humility is absolutely necessary for anyone who desires to live a life well pleasing to God. And there is finally no greater success than thus to live! + + +