Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

In Walt Morey’s story “Gentle Ben”, an adult bear helped a trapped man. This was the same man who had hunted the bear down just a little while ago. Gentle giants are that way – they could squash a person in a moment’s notice, but they choose to save a life instead.

There is a direct link between freedom and humility, demonstrated by the life of God’s Son. Jesus knew the secret of relinquishing power and not holding on to any privileges. Paul described the nature of Jesus in a letter to the Philippians in East Macedonia, and here are his remarks (Philippians 2:5-8):

“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!”

The Son of God was not forced to become a human being; it clearly was His choice. Nobody took His life from Him. He voluntarily gave it away. And by doing so He opened the door to freedom. There is a big difference between relinquishing our power because we have to and relinquishing our power even if we don’t have to do it. That’s the way of humility.

Don’t let false humility deter you – wherever there is fraud, the original is not far away; so all we need to do is keep looking. We recognize false humility in people acting like doormats. That’s not what humility is all about. 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.”

The Lord knows Who He Is. And as humble people, we also know who we are. Learning from the gentle Giant, the great I Am, we become gentle and humble in heart and find rest for our souls.

“Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flying
Always stay humble and kind”

Lori McKenna

James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Heaven runs on humility because God is humble; genuine humility originates in Him.

We can learn humility by watching how God’s Spirit operates. Thanks to the Holy Spirit we have life on Earth. It was the Spirit of God who hovered over chaos in the story of our creation and turned it into a Garden of Eden. And it was thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Despite all of His power, the Spirit of God is still respectful of our boundaries. If we vote against Him, He respects our decision, even if it is detrimental to our well-being. The gentle Spirit of God is the best example of humility I can think of. He does not overpower us, He guides us only if we ask Him to, and He immediately withdraws if He is not welcome.

How do we humble ourselves? I believe we humble ourselves by surrendering completely into God’s almighty hands.

In the palm of His hand we can find out who we are. We are God’s creation – intricate and complicated, mysterious and wonderful – a reflection of our wonderful and mysterious Creator. However, if we forget that, we become disjointed and self-centered. And now we begin to blow things out of proportion as we lose our grip on reality.

Surrendered to God we are grounded in the truth. The closer we draw to God, the humbler we become. He puts things into perspective without belittling us. God the Giant and we His little dwarfs is definitely not His idea. He is our Father and He is “giantly” in love with His creation. We are considered family.

Our significance derives from the Lord. He made us, He is endeared to us and we have His undivided attention. In God’s eyes we are very special. We stand out because He is the One who lifts us up. In the palm of His hand we can truly be ourselves, and maybe this is what humility is all about.

“I’d rather be in the palm of Your hand
Though rich or poor I may be
Faith can see right through the circumstance
Sees the forest in spite of the trees
Your grace provides for me” – Ron Block

Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Ambition and competition is the engine of capitalism. However, the Kingdom of Heaven runs on humility.

Heaven is a society of humble citizens, which seems far removed from our world, almost alien. We are hooked on the Adrenalin of getting ahead and securing our place in this world, so much so that we can’t imagine life without it. We think if we take all of that out of the equation, what else is there left to do in Heaven? Well, taking a genuine interest in other beings (human beings included) would be a good start to wean ourselves off of this mindset.

Humility – What a concept! James wrote in one of his letters (James 3:13):

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. “

Humility stems from wisdom. The wiser we are the humbler we become. Life has a way of humbling us, and that’s a good thing. I believe that blunders, failures, frustrations and roadblocks are encouraging growth in wisdom. We learn empathy. How else could we relate to other people’s misfortunes if not through misfortunes of our own? The frustrations that we go through bring us closer together. We realize we’re “only” human. We recognize our limitations.

We will grow a crop of wisdom if we open our eyes wide and see other people around us fighting the same battle as we do. Instead of being entirely consumed by self-interest (which ignores the interests of others), we’ll become intrigued by other people’s stories. The minute we begin to feel empathy is the beginning of wisdom.

The bedrock of all charity work is both noticing and listening. We are not blind to a need, and we are not deaf to a good suggestion. This refreshing approach makes life on Earth much more enjoyable. Living this way, we are simply mirroring the lifestyle of Heaven. It’s beautiful. It’s simple. It’s inspiring.

Notice someone today. Pay attention to the undercurrent of a conversation. Follow one of these rabbit trails and you will end up learning something new. Taking interest in someone else’s story creates a better story. That’s the beauty of wisdom and humility.

Psalm 46:1: [For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.] “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Finding out that we are handcrafted by God is a huge light-bulb moment. One way or another, every person on this planet is on a quest to discover this innate truth. We tend to approach life differently after our light-bulb went off.

We all need God. His absence promotes dysfunction while His presence completes us. God is our refuge and strength. He helps us through life’s darkest hours. Moments like this impact us perhaps more than happy times ever will. As a happy side-effect, our personal trials will eventually yield a precious crop: humility.

Humility is a crown best worn on a mountain top. We shouldn’t forget how we got there. All mountain tops will pass. Around the corner new experiences and unknown challenges are waiting for us; and armed with humility we will do better negotiating the rough territory of life’s crazy surprises.

People weathered by various storms on the road of experience will sense when someone else is down. They are “rainy day people” who can relate because they’ve seen a rain storm or two (I am using Gordon Lightfoot’s endearing terminology here). Personally, I don’t know of anything more gratifying and satisfying than connecting with other people on a deeper level.

God profoundly delights in us when we care, because He cares. That’s who He is – our ever-present help in trouble – and He loves it when we start to resemble Him.

“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 crying a tear or two.” – Gordon Lightfoot

Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

I used to be one of those people who tried very hard to blend in. Not a lot of confidence and no desire to be in the spotlight whatsoever! At school I kept to myself, stayed away from cliques and when the time came to choose my profession I was mortified to just imagine myself teaching in front of a classroom full of students. My Art Teacher believed I was exceptionally talented. “I’m not going to be a starving artist” is all I said. “And teaching? No way am I going to teach!” We can be blinded by fear. I didn’t choose my profession based on my passion. I chose my profession based on fear.

We can also be blinded by pride. When I think about the times when I thought I knew something and didn’t pay attention to anybody else’s input, I wince today because it never bode well for me. When I’m convinced that I am right (and everybody else is wrong) then my ears are shut and I have a hard time taking in what others have to say. That’s how pride operates. Pride is exclusive, not inclusive. There is much to be said about seeking a second opinion. We always need to be curious enough to listen to both sides of a story.

With an open mind comes humility, and with humility comes wisdom.

Humans can produce false humility, even though humility can’t be faked. It is not humble to say: “Oh I’m no good!” False humility is supposed to make us look humble by exaggerating how bad we are. Let’s not forget that God created us – don’t you think He did an amazing job? God created us to be His children and to walk in power, love and self-discipline. This certainly does not resemble the little-worm-mentality suggested by fake humility.

There is no shortcut to genuine humility. It develops while walking with God. He is using our life experiences to humble us. And it takes time – a reason why the less experienced among us may have trouble relating to humility. However, the good news is, regardless who we are, where we are from, which culture we grow up in, walking with the Lord will gradually change us over time.

Like a landscape artist, God fertilizes and prunes us to the point that we are sprouting, branching out, and bearing fruit. When God looks at us, He sees potential. He gives each of us something special to do. We are meant to be a blessing.

Thanks to God we get to know who we really are. That’s so exciting! He also keeps us levelheaded as He helps us through the tougher times. He frees us to be humble, and humility is the best! Nothing is impossible to a humble person walking with God Almighty.

Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Paul mailed a letter from prison to his friends in Ephesus (situated in modern day Turkey). Previously, he had been arrested for no other reason than publicly expressing his beliefs. He could have turned bitter over unfair treatment. Instead, the first thing Paul wrote in his letter was this (Ephesus 4:2):

“Be completely humble and gentle;”

This morning as I was browsing the Internet, I listened to Tim McCraw’s rendition of “Humble and Kind”. For some reason the song lyrics caught my attention, one phrase in particular:

“Bitterness keeps you from flying, always be humble and kind.”

In the comment section below this particular video clip Lessie Perreves wrote:

“Even though I’ve been raised on this whole rule the song proposes, I do get really bitter/salty sometimes. Whenever that happens, I listen to this. It helps me feel better and helps remind me no one likes a bitter jerk.”

God knows we go through some rough patches sometimes. Dealing with our emotions as we are processing loss should be our number one priority. A broken heart cannot be unbroken, but it can be healed if we admit to our brokenness. A hardened heart on the other hand will continue to be stuck in trauma with little chance to move on.

We hate being broken and bruised. It is humbling to admit failure. And yet, buried in our humility lies a kernel of hope: our weakness of today pours into our strength of tomorrow. Bad experiences can promote understanding, and our newfound empathy will turn us into better neighbors.

If we have looked into Paul’s story, then we know that gentleness was not his strong suit, but his life turned around when he met Jesus; Paul allowed Jesus access to his heart, and that profoundly changed him.

We won’t be the same if we allow Jesus access to our hearts. Jesus is humility and kindness impersonated, and we can learn from Him. There is a lot of pain out there, and I believe this world hurts a great deal less with a good dose of humility and gentleness.