How to Cultivate Humility

In previous blogs we have been looking at humility, servanthood and pride. Hopefully done enough to help you see the importance of cultivating humility, being a servant. For us as individuals and for us as a church, a community of God’s people.

Looked, mostly in passing at how we can cultivate humility. This week want to look at it in much more detail.

Prerequisites.

  1. Admit we are proud and that is a bad thing!

You will make no progress in overcoming pride as long as you deny that it exists in you. We can easily see it and recognise it in others, need to be willing to admit it exists in ourselves as well.

  1. Sincerely want to get rid of it.

He has accepted the command to be humble, and seeks to obey it, though only to find how utterly he fails. He prays for humility, at times very earnestly; but in his secret heart he prays more, if not in word, then in wish, to be kept from the very things that will make him humble.

Consider God, especially the cross

To truly be serious and deliberate in mortifying pride and cultivating greatness, you must each day survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.

Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

Far from offering us flattery, the cross undermines our self-righteousness, and we can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit.

Need to be very practical about this – theory into practise.

Resolve to do it daily – cross rescued us. Remind yourself of it. Do it in the morning – acknowledge your need of God as you start the day, express gratitude to God, use your commute time if required.

In the evening as you acknowledge your need of sleep, remind yourself you are a dependant creature. I ask for gift of sleep.

The apostle Peter clearly and practically describes for us how we can humble ourselves daily in 1 Peter 5:6–7. First he writes, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.” Then he shows us how: “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Every time you feel anxious about anything, consider God, consider the cross and give him your anxieties.

Whatever successes you experience in your life and ministry and vocation, learn to immediately transfer the glory to Him. Freedom of self-forgetfulness – spoke to me of feeling good after a well-received sermon, bad after poor one. Both wrong – need to transfer glory to God. Focus on my obedience.

Turn these things into habits – let them become second nature to us. Knee jerk reaction.

There is one thing—and one thing alone—that ultimately matters: God’s opinion of you and me.

Be thankful

“Thankfulness,” Michael Ramsey reminds us, “is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.”

This means actively looking for ways that God is at work in the lives of other people. Attitude of mind that doesn’t always come easily or naturally. Work at it. Let it become habitual.

E.G. Paul recognizes evidences of grace among the Corinthians, and he therefore continually thanks God for them. Personally, I wouldn’t have wanted to be involved with this church. E.g. getting drunk at church meals, people gorging themselves whilst others starved. Sexual immorality – someone having an affair with their father’s new wife. The church proud that they are not being judgemental. Factions and division rife.

Paul looks at the Corinthian church as it is in Christ Jesus before he looks at anything else that is true of the church. That disciplined statement of faith is rarely made in local churches; the warts are examined and lamented, but often there’s no vision of what God has already done in Christ.

Be intimately familiar with the list of the fruit of the Spirit— “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). Make a practice of observing how the Spirit manifests these traits in the lives you see around you, suddenly you will be aware that God is at work everywhere!

For too many, their understanding of God’s activity has been reduced to the spectacular, and it appears to them that the spectacular is something that happens only to someone else, never to them.

For us as a church to see what God is doing in other churches, thank God for it.

Other ways

Time and again laughter has provided much-needed help in my ongoing battle against pride. Be willing to laugh at yourself, don’t take yourself too seriously.

Teacher with flies undone. Everyone knows except the teacher, all he knows is that the class is restless, aware humour is spreading but he doesn’t know what the joke is! All have our flies undone. Others clearly see it. And you need their help to identify its presence. Without others’ help to see myself clearly, I’ll listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions.

Third, avoid any kind of negative comments. Negative is anything that is critical, judgmental, and not designed to bring a good feeling. Avoiding all negative talk is hard.

Fourth, refuse to clear your name. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).

Fifth resist all temptation to promote yourself. These last two things are God’s prerogative alone.

 

Pride is not defeated; humility is not cultivated without effort. Let us resolve to make the effort to  become humble.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson

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