Psalm 45:1: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Helpless babes remind us how we used to be. We were very needy little boys and girls when we cried for food and for a change of diaper. Little children are that way. They cannot survive without a caregiver.

However, time moves on, and as we mature into adulthood we find ourselves perhaps reluctant to acknowledge a need.  Meanwhile we’ve been taught how to depend on ourselves. Maybe on top of that we ran into some unreliable people, and now we will try even harder to become more and more self-sufficient. So, we work hard, we get insured, we save money, and spend a lot of time developing various systems designed to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Good luck with that one! Ever noticed that even the best systems have its limitations? In the end, self-reliant people are doomed to get disappointed and very frustrated.

Entering God into the equation of life is like a breath of fresh air. We are so much better off realizing our need for God. A shift of our world view happens as soon as we start relying on God. A follower of Jesus, whose name is John, wrote about reliance on God’s love in one of his letters (1 John 4:16):

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

We all need God’s love. Similar to little children who need their parents, we cannot live without Him. His absence promotes dysfunction in literally every area of our lives. On the other hand, His presence will definitely pull us through our darkest hours – we only need to open up to Him and let Him in. When we are down and out and reach out to God He will become our refuge and strength. His love will encourage us; His Spirit will lead us. And maybe at a later time, when we are privileged to be on the mountain top of success we will remember how we got there in the first place. You guessed it: by the grace of God. It’s a great thing to realize, isn’t it? Humility rocks!

By the way, humility is a crown best worn on mentioned mountain top, and here is why: it helps us stay grounded. All mountain tops will eventually pass. Just around the corner new experiences and unknown challenges are waiting for us; and armed with humility we will have a better chance of negotiating the rough territory of life’s crazy surprises.

Realizing that we are not self-made is a God-given light bulb moment. I personally had this light bulb moment as a teenager when I asked God to introduce Himself to me. He did when I realized that He truly exists and that I am indeed His creation.

Our first step into humility is to notice that we are in fact created. Our second step is to realize that we are incomplete. God created us, and He completes us. The more this truth sinks in, the humbler we become.

A happy side-effect: a humble person will actually notice when someone is down. They are “rainy day people” who can relate because they’ve been through a rain storm or two (I am using Gordon Lightfoot’s endearing terminology here). Humility transforms us into human beings genuinely interested in other people, which is akin to God’s interest in people. And if we handle people with care God profoundly delights in us, and He will in turn bless us wherever we go.

“Rainy day lovers don’t lie when they tell you,

They’ve been down like you.

Rainy day people don’t mind

If you’re cryin’ a tear or two.” (Gordon Lightfoot)

 

Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There is a direct link between freedom and humility, demonstrated by the life of God’s Son.  Paul described Jesus in his letter to the Philippians, city dwellers in Eastern Macedonia. Here is what he wrote:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

Jesus knew the secret of relinquishing power and not holding on to any privileges. Although incarcerated and eventually put to death, his heart remained free because it was His choice to submit to a gruesome death penalty which nailed Him to two wooden beams. Nobody took His life from Him. He voluntarily gave it away.

There’s a huge difference between submitting because we have to, and choosing to submit even if we don’t have to. Gentle giants are that way, giants who could squash a person in a moment’s notice but instead choose to save this person’s life – as in Walt Morey’s story of “Gentle Ben”, featuring an adult bear helping a trapped man who moments ago was hunting him down. The bear didn’t have to help the man, but did so anyway.

Similarly, Jesus didn’t have to become human and go through the anguish of death by torture, but He did. And by doing so He opened the door to freedom. As trapped as we might feel, stuck in fierce self-defense to protect our selfish pride, there is a way out, and it is the way of humility.

Humility got a bad rep through false humility – however, wherever there’s fraud, the original is not very far, so all we need to do is keep looking! We sense false humility when we hear people describe themselves as doormats. That’s no humility, that’s spreading lies about oneself. Nobody is born a doormat, and nobody should become one either. When Jesus was asked who He was, He did not answer: I’m a doormat. He answered (all quotes taken from John’s Gospel):

I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the good shepherd. I am God’s Son. I am the resurrection and the life.”

As a humble person I know who I am, and nothing can change that – neither life circumstances, nor personal make-overs. I shall always remain the one-of-a-kind original God has crafted in my DNA, and nobody can replace me either. While this may sound outrageous and not at all humble, the same can be said about you. So my uniqueness is not better than yours.

Armed with humility nobody can take away our dignity because after all, we are who we are! With our spirits voluntarily submitted to the gentle giant, God, we shall remain free, even if the tides are turned against us.

In the book of Ecclesiastes we find the statement (Ecclesiastes 4:12):

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are as tight as a cord of three strands can be, but this cord got broken when Jesus went through hell and laid His life on the line for all of humanity. The Trinity truly believes that we are worth the unspeakable pain. If the Trinity believes this, so should we.

We are highly valued. So is Jesus’ extraordinary sacrifice. When Jesus was reunited with the Father and became the first to be resurrected from the dead, honors have been heaped upon Him, as voiced in Paul’s letter (Philippians 2:10-11):

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

God’s generosity is absolutely amazing! Staying humble, we will live to see His incredible generosity played out in our own backyard – possibly in this life, but certainly in the life to come.

“When the dreams you’re dreaming come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride – but always stay humble and kind!” (Tim McGraw)