“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
I love a good “Peanuts” cartoon. This one, in particular, shows Linus telling Charlie Brown, “When I get big, I’m going to be a humble little country doctor. I’ll live in the city, see, and every morning I’ll get up, climb into my sports car, and zoom into the country! Then I’ll start healing people…I’ll heal people for miles around!” In the last frame, he exclaims, “I’ll be a world famous humble little country doctor!”
Charles Schultz, the cartoonist, was making fun of how difficult it is for us to be humble. Often, we start out with the goal of being a humble little whatever, but before we know it, we’re into being a world-famous, humble little whatever!
But, can you really blame us? We live in a world that screams, “ME!” Everything’s about me. Look at my success. Look at my beauty. Look at how good I am at __________________. I’m all that and a bag of chips!
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states the word humble comes from the Latin word humilis which means low or lowly; from humus ‘ground’. Being humble is described as not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; having a spirit of deference or submission; ranking low in a hierarchy or a scale.
But, can you even imagine living in a society where being humble is the norm?
Aren’t you and I, at times, the very opposite? If we take a look in the mirror, aren’t there probably more times than we’d like to admit that we are proud and pompous…and very proud that we are proud and pompous? We step on or step over people that we disagree with, differ from or are in our way. We make special effort to emphasize ourselves and make our thoughts and opinions known. We spend a countless amount of money, time and energy to make sure that we fit into this hierarchy that we consciously or subconsciously yearn to feel a part of.
Shift gears with me and think about John the Baptist. Here’s a guy who could have been proud; and, rightfully so I must add. Who else (apart from Jesus Himself) could claim to have been filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15)? Who else could have the important title of being the forerunner of the Messiah (Luke 1:17,76)? How about this…who do you know that Jesus affirmed to be the greatest man in history (Matthew 11:11)?
Yet, John teaches us an ultimate lesson in humility. He really lives I Corinthians 13 where it says that “Love is not proud.” If we could just get his famous one-liner down. Just think of what a difference it would make. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).