Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Humility

The last of this particular set of backed up assignments.  There may be hope for normal backed-up-ness by Friday!
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The apostle Paul gives us a good definition for humility when he tells the Philippians to "regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others " (2:3-4).  He then goes on to quote an early Christian poem about how Jesus emptied himself of the rights and privileges of divinity and instead took on the status of a servant (2:6-7).  Even then in human form he humbled himself even further to one of the most shameful kinds of death: crucifixion (2:8). 

Paul's example of Jesus, as well as his own example, point to humility more as a way of living and behaving rather than of self-esteem.  Humility for Paul thus means to put the needs of others above those of yourself.  It is "not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned" (Rom. 12:3).  Christian humility is thus not self-effacement, for we as humans are created in the image of God, both female and male (Gen. 1:27).  God made humanity a little lower than God (Ps. 2:5) and to denigrate each other is to insult God who made us (e.g. Jas. 3:9).

At the same time, humility is also an attitude, of which arrogance is the opposite.  An arrogant person is one who does not realize that everything they have is a gift from the Lord, that that we entered this world naked and will exit it the same (Job 1:21).  Dust we are, and to dust we shall return (Eccl. 3:20).  The humble recognize who they are before God (cf. Isa. 6) and rejoice in the greatness of his love.

6 comments:

David Drury said...

As a person, you live this one out better than most.

As a scholar (a tribe not known for their humlity), you're practically a specimen of humlity, Ken.

Thanks for your example.

Ken Schenck said...

I'm proud to be everything you say I am :-)

Marc said...

So what is the Wesleyan take on Total Depravity? On which end of the "human beings born evil/pure" scale are you?

Ken Schenck said...

My denomination has no official position on total depravity but Wesley and the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition in general has held to it (see Roger Olson's book on Arminianism). Having said that, I think the Wesleyan tradition in general is more sympathetic to something more like what I might call the "thorough depravity" of the Eastern tradition than the classic Protestant denominations are.

Rick said...

Reading some of the writings of the early Celtic church, one can see how humility played such a big role in their ministries.

Danielle said...

Such a healthy reminder... I so often think the things I have and am are because of my own doing. I'm praying for total surrender and a heart that understands that I can only boast that I have known God and he has given me all that I have. Thanks for the reminder.

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