Love God above everything and love others as we love ourselves. What God wants from us can be stated pretty simply. Still, no matter how easy it is to state what God wants from us, it’s not nearly so easy to actually do what he wants. That’s evidenced by the fact that even the best of us slip and fail sometimes. God understands this, so much so, that it’s even pointed out in the Bible.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. – 1 John 1:8-10The path of righteousness is a hard road to walk, but that doesn’t mean we can just give up and go another way. We have to be diligent, and we have to be proactive in finding the things in our path that will cause us to stumble, so that we can remove them. There are many different pitfalls, and to make matters worse, each of us is susceptible to different temptations. So what can we do?
Well, as a start, we can humble ourselves. Humility is vital to our walks with God because often we are the ones that inhibit the growth of our relationships with God. Our desires to do the things we want to do, go to the places where we want to go, associate with the people with whom we want to associate, etc… are what make it impossible for us to truly live the way God wants us to live. Without humility, it is almost impossible for us to pull back and realize that what we want is not paramount and is not always the answer. Many of us seek to rise above our stations and some believe the best way to do that is through our own efforts, but the Bible says different.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:10The Bible clearly tells us that if we want to become more than we are, if we want to reach our full potential, we need to first lower ourselves. Trying to puff ourselves up to achieve more is the exact opposite of what we should do.
For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted – Luke 14:11Jesus preached humility, but beyond that, his life was a testament to humility. He was God in human form, but he lived as a common person avoiding all the trappings of the world. Therein lies the problem for many of us. We don’t understand the degree to which we’re influenced by the world. When we read the Bible, and see that it speaks about the dangers presented by the world, we always get stuck thinking about the little things we may have to give up for the Lord. While it’s true that following God’s way may require sacrificing certain worldly pleasures, the Bible’s warnings against the trappings of the world go deeper than that.
Just think about American society. Consider how much importance is put on personal achievement. Everybody is conditioned to want to be Somebody. That means gaining wealth, status, and fame. Those of us who are able to achieve those things on a high level are often praised, idolized, and held up as the standard that everyone should want to meet. Even though most of us won’t reach those levels, we all do our best to try and emulate what we see to some degree and that leads to us celebrating ourselves or looking for others to celebrate us for everything we accomplish. It gets to be so bad that much of what we do is motivated by our need to be lauded. The Bible warns against that way of being.
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 others. – Philippians 2:3The interesting thing about Paul’s statement is that applying it to our lives doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to change our pursuits. You want to be rich? That’s fine, but do you seek wealth so that you can have all the fanciest things for yourself, or do you seek it so that you can help others who have nothing? You want to be famous? Ok, but do you want that so you can bask in the adoration of your fans, or do you want it so that you’ll have a bigger platform to spread the Word of God? You see, living humble and Godly lives doesn’t mean you have to live life as a nobody. Moses was well respected and held in high regard, but he didn’t let that go to his head. He understood that no matter how important he might have been, God was still supreme. Living humbly also doesn’t mean you have to live life as a pauper. David was massively wealthy, but he understood that all his riches came from God, and, ultimately, were given to bring glory to God. Living humbly simply means understanding that we aren’t the end all and be all. Whether we are world famous or relatively unknown, rich or poor, we are just people, and none of us is any better than the others. In the end, only God deserves to be praised.
This should be easy for Believers. We understand the greatness of God, so we, of all people, should have no problem prostrating ourselves before something or someone greater. The problem is that we let a lack of humility affect everything, even the way we attempt to encounter God. Many people want to out-pray each other, out-sing each other, out-give each other, etc…, but not because they want God to be glorified that much. They do it because they want to be recognized for their goodness, and, in some cases, that mindset flows down from the pulpit to every seat in the congregation. Unfortunately, that is the exact wrong way to be if we are trying to please God. Jesus laid that fact out for us clearly (Matthew 6:1-18).
It is important that we take what Jesus said to heart. It should be the foundation of our humility. When we learn to serve and interact with God humbly, then we can learn to interact humbly with our fellow humans. When we learn to present ourselves to those around us in a humble manner, then we can learn to put humility at the center of all of our motivations. When we’ve come to really live with humble hearts and minds, then being obedient, faithful, and loving become that much easier. Walking a righteous path won’t seem so difficult once we’ve learned humility because it is the key to removing one of the biggest obstacles in our way – ourselves.