What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
–1 Corinthians 4:7
Pride blinds you to God’s purpose for your life, but humility allows you to see your life and God clearly. Humility is the recognition that any good thing in your life is the result of what God or others have done for you. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul asked, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Everything you are able to do ultimately comes from God or from other people who have been sent by God.
Let me give you three characteristics of humility. First of all, the humble recognize their spiritual bankruptcy. In Matthew 5:3, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Have you ever felt “poor in spirit”? You struggle with sin. You think, “God, I am unworthy in Your sight.” Guess what? It is only when you realize how spiritually bankrupt you are that you can receive what you need to enter into heaven, and that is God’s forgiveness. To be forgiven, you first have to admit your need to be forgiven. Humble people recognize their spiritual bankruptcy.
Second, the humble reflect the character of Christ. Being humble does not mean you have to be spiritually weak. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” Jesus is both powerful and humble. I am reminded of the words of Joel Belz: “[As a child] you wanted your dad to be big and strong and able to do anything he wanted–except that when he dealt with you, it had to be with tenderness. . . . Lots of muscle, lots of restraint.” That is who Jesus is–strength with restraint. If we are truly humble, it does not mean we are weak. It means we are strong but restrained.
Third, the humble are dead to themselves. They put God’s will above their own will not some of the time, but every time. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” If we are truly humble, we die to our own desires in order to put the interests of God and others above our own. Do you know what it means to deny yourself? It may mean swallowing your pride and asking forgiveness from somebody you have hurt. It may mean turning off the television and listening to your mate or your child who really needs to talk to you. It may mean putting down your iPhone and picking up the Bible to let God speak to you. Jesus said the truly humble are those who put the interests of God and others above their own.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #7: Beware Of Celebrating The Summit” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Joel Belz, “Muscle And Restraint,” World, August 30, 2018, https://world.wng.org/2018/08/muscle_and_restraint.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.