Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

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 for others?

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 God.

“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,” he said.

“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! +  +  +