The Apostle Paul to the Ephesian Elders:
“In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive’.”
— Acts 20:35 (NRSV)
It is hard for most of us to imagine the sort of persecution Paul underwent. Most of us may never know. Perhaps it’s those in the persecuted church, in our day, which can most readily identify.
The way persecution is handled reveals our character on a sliding scale—from pride to humility. When we find it unconscionable to forgive our persecutors we exist at the pride end; but forgiveness and understanding is known to the humble.
It is surely under the storm of tyranny—when we are pushed from pillar to post psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually—that the true material of our characters comes to bear over our situations, in response to them. Under such trying of conditions is the stimulus where humility may show itself. It is easy to be humble in easy circumstances. It is not so easy to be humble when things are against us.
But we have not considered, yet, the actual manifestation of humility; how it becomes known needs to be observable.
The Very Present Character, and Gift to All, of Humility
Humility is observed in service which finds itself inspired by creativity, hatched innovatively, borne of love, seeking nothing for itself, but spending itself in love because it can.
Humility wants to serve; it doesn’t need to serve. Humility sustains itself because it serves for the pure pleasure of pleasing God. Nothing founded in people’s acclamation is at home with humility. Humility looks not for praise, but accepts any praise forthcoming with dignity which blesses the bringer of the praise, bringing glory to God.
Because humility is observable, it has a very present nature about it. That nature is founded upon the fact that humility’s works are a gift to all, not least of all to the humble themselves who are blessed of God.
Humility’s beginning is in acknowledging the truth about one’s self in the midst of life. Its middle is in understanding and applying love; the want to serve others for their gain, not ours. Its end is in serving weaker others in love under trying conditions—where the character of our humility is tested. Humility considers the serving life, and life itself, a consummate privilege.
Humility is found purest when others are increased and we are decreased (John 3:30).
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.