An e-mail arrived with a lesson I’ll not soon forget. This missile from a respected minister and friend told of a personal inventory of his motives in life and described a change of heart that would be good for us all. He began by saying his passion in the past had been to be right. He had studied hard so he would be right on theological matters. He had chosen high moral standards so he would always be doing right, not wrong. And while these, admittedly, are good goals, he is now facing the fact that these admirable traits can be based on the vice of pride.
The clincher for this good man came, he says, when he looked into the Bible and discovered that his mindset was most closely in line, not with the apostles, the repentant Samaritan woman at the well, the lepers of that time or the like, but was more like that of the Pharisees who were given to self righteousness and pride. In his words: “I was thinking highly of myself based on what I didn’t do, rather than looking at my heart to see why I chose what I did.”
What was the result of my friend’s personal inventory? Let him answer our question.
God’s standard is now engraved into my memory, not to be forgotten. Let all that you do be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Love is closely associated with humility. Pride calls attention to us. Humility turns the spotlight on the needs, opinions and accomplishments of others.
No wonder special blessings are promised to the humble (James 4:10).
How does humility affect a husband and father? He stops cutting down his wife and roaring in anger at his children. He no longer thinks of himself as a dictator but as a servant of those he loves.
How does humility affect a driver? He’s not angered by the unintended mistakes of other drivers. He doesn’t think all others on the road need driving lessons and stops shouting his instructions to them.
How does humility affect relationships between church leaders and pastors? They understand that there aren't any perfect preachers and humbly pray for those charged with ministering to them.
R.A. Torrey, the biographer of the world known evangelist, D.L. Moody, said Moody was the humblest man he had ever known. Moody often quoted another noted speaker of his time who said, “A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility. You can detect mock humility.”
Today, national pride without facing our sins may be one of our most serious problems. Long ago, wise Solomon received the following instructions for his nation to survive during troubled times: If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
If you’re feeling down about your present problems, consider humbly seeking God’s help. Remember: for both individuals and nations, humility is the highway to the top.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.