A few days ago, I was reading and journaling about humility. I was really going to town: highlighting, reading, scribbling notes. I envisioned myself going throughout my day in humble serenity, serving others and choosing lowly places for God’s glory.
But then. . . God gave me some practice opportunities. Ah, yes. Don’t you just hate it when you pray about a certain virtue, and God actually makes you practice it? Like when I pray for patience, and my entire day goes wrong. Or I pray for a strong love for others, and everyone seems particularly unlovable. Well, here I was again: practicing.
The day really wasn’t bad. It’s just that I let certain things get to me. A kid at my job was disappointed I was there instead of a different tutor. A meeting left me feeling like I wasn’t doing enough compared to my peers. Then in coming days, I was asked to do a task I really, really didn’t want to do—so I basically threw a twenty-year-old-tantrum.
And weaving all these ‘tragedies’ together was the fact that I felt unrecognized for my efforts.
I definitely failed the practice trials. While that saddens me, I’m glad God is showing me yet another way I can become more like him. His word is unfailing, and at times speaks directly to the ugliest places in our hearts. If we’re willing to change, we will be glad to see those places budding new life.
Here’s the passage that inspired these thoughts:
One Sabbath, Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee. . .When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:1, 7-11, emphasis added
The Pharisees loved being recognized for their high standing in society. No matter where they went, they expected to receive honor and preference. So naturally when they came to this meal, they snatched up the best seats. Jesus was so straightforward to say that they were in error. What if someone worthier than the Pharisees came?
Concerning this, Matthew Henry wrote: "It ought to check our high thoughts of ourselves to think how many there are that are more honourable than we.”
While we probably don’t strut about our lives loudly demanding respect, pride shows itself in many other ways. I’ve made a list below. Consider if you’ve ever displayed the following:
Ok, yikes. I was able to make such an extensive list because I was pulling examples from my own life. We can see that pride is not always easy to catch or change, because it’s made a home in our most learned, impulsive actions and thoughts.
And Jesus sees it far more clearly than we do.
“Even in the common actions of life, Christ’s eye is upon us, and he marks what we do, not only in our religious assemblies, but at our tables, and makes remarks upon it.”
-Matthew Henry Commentary
The good news is, the offer still stands. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt 23:12)
What would it look like for us to live a life of humbling ourselves? Of choosing lowly places, and honestly being okay with it? For one, I think I’d have a lot more peace. I would also be a much more joyful and fruitful servant. I’d be more focused on others than myself!
Imagine choosing a bad seat at church so someone else can see better. Quietly doing small tasks others don’t want to do. Choosing a far-away parking spot so others can park closer. Serving out of the joy of service, not the hope of being thanked. Living not to feed our ego, or with a chip on our shoulder when we’re unrecognized, but out of pure love.
I’ll be the first to say that living this way is hard. Obviously. But it’s something worth striving towards. Maybe within a week of trying you’ll see four victories and fifteen failures, but at least you’re trying. At least you’re aware of it. Imagine what God can do with a willing, submissive spirit over just a few years! Let’s choose lowly places. Let’s live in such a humble way that the world takes notice.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!