One of the biggest problems we have with humility is that most of us don't know what it really is. We look at men and women who we might say are humble, and we define them by the quietness of their lives. They embrace stillness. They're unassuming. There's a certain...something about them.
And all of these are manifestations of humility, but they are not actual humility. And these conceptions lead us astray when we consider this discipline for ourselves.
Because humility is not quietness or stillness; these come out of humility, but they are not humility. Humility is unassuming, but it is not unassumingness. Humility is not this diminished, smaller thing that we often think of when we think about what we've seen of it in our world.
This is what gets us off track. We think humility is this smaller thing. We think it's making ourselves smaller in our world, even under the religious language of "making God bigger." That's bogus. When you make yourself smaller all the time, you start to get a diminished view of who you are. And then you can't be humble. You can't be anything. Because you keep planting this idea in you're head that you're not anything. When you make God bigger all the time, bigger and bigger and bigger, you start to lose sight of Him. If you're getting smaller and smaller and God's getting bigger and bigger, at some point, you're going to look around and there's going to be this incredible space between you and Him and it's not going to feel any more like you can bridge it. There's going to seem no way to get to God.You start to feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, and God is no longer Lord and Savior; He's Overlord. It's not what He wants.
So no, humility is not making yourself smaller. Nor is it making God bigger. Nor is it, I think, the same for everyone.
Humility is a very personal thing. And I say that because of what it is: at its core, humility is having a right sense of size. It's knowing how big God is...and knowing how big you are. It's knowing what you're capable of, what you're responsible for, what is required of you, and what is beyond you. It's living within the limits of your unique position in life, whatever that might be. It's knowing yourself well enough to know those limits.
For Pharaoh, as discussed yesterday, one of those limits was what, or who, he could possess. He failed to recognize that the people he laid claim to were not his people; they were God's people. And God called him out on it. God said - you have not humbled yourself. You don't get that these are my people.
But maybe for you it's not people. Maybe for you, it's a fight. Maybe you're fighting a fight that feels like yours and you've failed to realize this is not your fight. Maybe it's your work. Maybe you're doing work that feels like your work, but it's not your work. Maybe it's your ministry. Maybe this feels like your ministry, and you've long forgotten it is not your ministry. Maybe it's your place. Maybe you've set up your life in this one certain place, and this place feels like your place. It feels like home, but this is not home. This is God's fight. This is God's work. This is God's ministry. This is God's place.
Humility is about figuring out what's really yours in the world, where you begin and where you end. It's not about making yourself less; it's about knowing yourself more. It's about embracing the fullness of who you are and realizing how finite that fullness is.
And it's about more than that. Because simply having an honest measure of yourself is not enough. It's about having an honest sense of God and the rest of the world, too. It's about knowing what's not yours in the world and who it belongs to and where it belongs. It's about knowing where the rest of the world, as a whole and as individual pieces, begin and where they end, including God. It's about having a right sense not just of yourself but of everything around you so that you see how the pieces fit together and so you know where you fit. And then, humility is about fitting there. It's about being what you're meant to be and not worrying about whether that makes you more or less. It makes you something better than that.
It makes you...you.
And isn't that what you always wanted to be?