Humility and Submission

When you think you are humble, chances are you’re not. In fact, I’d say just the thought of having humility is a two-edged sword. The second you garner the thought of humility, you’re automatically assuming a position of arrogance, even if it’s only in your own mind.

I think humility and submission are two of the hardest traits for a believer to master. Submission is tough, because it lends itself to….well, submitting, to a higher authority. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the President, a school teacher, a pastor, or your parents (whether you’re 4 or 40), no one likes to be told what to do. It’s part of our sin nature. If given the choice, we’ll go our way 9 times out of 10, because at the heart of a lack of submission is the superior attitude that we know it all. Ask any teenager, they’ll prove this out every time.

A lack of humility takes that air of superiority and ramps it up a notch. Humility does not allow itself to be center, neither does humility look for the glory. But very few are those, especially in 2009, who are not looking for the glory. It doesn’t matter if you’re Kayne grabbing the mic at the MTV Video Music Awards, a sports star cashing in on the multi-million dollar contract, or the average Joe bragging about that big promotion, glory seekers are all around us.

The other side of humility is the desire to be right. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from the outright to the passive-aggressive, but either way, when someone is struggling with humility issues, they almost always will voice their opinion on a given topic they think they have the “upper hand” on. This antithesis to humility (pride) plays out everyday, in businesses and churches, social clubs and gatherings, from the halls of our schools to the highrises of capitalism.

Pride is a killer. It is born from within every one of us, and goes back as far as the Fall. Genesis 3:6 tells us that Eve took of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because it “was to be desired to make one wise.” At the heart of the issue of the Fall is the fact that, through the serpent’s deception, the first couple desired to be as wise as God Himself. Pride. And thus, through their action, humanity was cursed, bringing about the need for God to reconcile Himself to His creation through Jesus Christ.

Jesus, then, serves as our perfect example of submission and humility. His life on earth, His mission amongst the people He created, was to serve as the template for life, while also taking upon Himself the iniquity of all humanity; past, present, and future. He did so with perfect servitude, and with a right spirit. Surely He wanted to stray from that mission, otherwise He wouldn’t have prayed in the Garden, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Perfect submission drove Him to forgoe His desires for the greater purpose. It caused Him to ask, yes, but ultimately to bow His will, His humanness, to the will of the Father. Humility carried Him to Calvary, bypassing all His divine abilities, and instead taking on the guilt, not only of the man who was freed in His place, but also that of all of mankind.

Humility and submission, then, beg the question to be asked- “Who’s will are we bowing to?” Because submission to authority will always puts us in the right place positionally. God raises up, and God brings low as He wills. Ultimately, nothing we do can elevate us without His hand taking part, but most certainly our lack of submission can serve as the catalyst for bringing us low.

Likewise, humility, when we act and conduct ourselves with the proper attitude, will always bring us into alignment with God’s will. No one who acts with a prideful spirit will be in tune with God’s will, because God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) When we are bringing ourselves into alignment with Gods’ will, a humble spirit says, “I don’t care if I’m right, I will ACT right, and allow God to do the rest.”

A humble spirit doesn’t need the spotlight, the recognition, or the pat on the back. A humble spirit has a continuity of conduct, whether acted out in front of 10,000 or 10 or 1. Whether everyone sees, or no one at all. True humility, as Christ showed us, helps one to lay down their wants and desires for the good of the whole. The program of God, God’s will and plan, is always perfectly in sync with those who have a humble spirit.

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