What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? –James 4:1
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.—James 4:10
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”—Matthew 16:24
Pride is the problem and humility is the answer.
When kids are disrespectful and parents over-react, pride is the problem. Everyone involved thinks too highly of themselves, and if they would humble themselves and not be so concerned with always coming out on top, things would go better.
When couples are at odds, pride is the problem and humility is the answer. Both parties become self-absorbed, concerned with protecting their own interests. They start to see the situation as a win-lose scenario, where the other person needs to be put in their place and recognize how wrong they are. He wants her to admit her faults, but he is blind to his own, and vice versa.
When churches are divided, the problem is often pride. When people choose to take offense over small matters, the problem is pride. We think too much of ourselves, and we think of ourselves too much, and the foundation is laid for all sorts of conflict and hurt.
Of course, I know that I am prideful. As I said in another recent article, I think about myself all the time. I have a hard time getting beyond myself to truly be concerned for others, to have the compassion for them that Jesus has. It’s amazing that He is gracious to me despite the ugly state of my heart.
But I also see pride in other people, and it makes me sad. I see marriages at a stalemate because there is stubbornness on both sides, and no one wants to take the first step toward humility and vulnerability, to say things like “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.” I see conflicts between brothers and sisters in Christ that are truly unnecessary, because neither party is willing to overlook small offenses. I see people who simply can’t fathom the possibility that not all of their opinions are correct, and it builds walls between them and the people around them. In thinking about this topic and how it affects our lives, our homes and our churches, I’ve identified several types of humility I’d love to see more of in myself and others:
Being humble enough to lose small arguments. Relationships are not a competition. No one is keeping score. When love grows you win, and when division grows you lose. Sometimes people say things that you know are wrong, but are about things that really don’t matter all that much, and the most loving thing to do is to keep your mouth shut.
Being humble enough to let others have the spotlight. Some people have a really tough time with the fact that not everything is about them. In life, sometimes you are the person on stage, and sometimes you’re just a member of the crowd. Maturity is knowing how to handle both. If you need attention in every situation, if you need to be noticed and special in every room you’re in, that’s pride, and there’s an excellent chance you’re getting on people’s nerves more than you realize.
Being humble enough to listen, and to actually make changes in yourself based on what you hear. If you always want to be the source of wisdom, and are never open to receiving it from others, that’s a problem.
Being humble enough to be flexible. This is an especially hard one for me. I’m a planner, and I can get so attached to my plans that I resent anything that comes along and changes them, because I assume that what I was already going to do is more important than what someone else wants me to do. That’s pride. I think humble people are willing to hold their plans loosely because they live with the assumption that maybe God has a better plan for them.
Being humble enough to let others be prideful. Just because someone else has a flaw, that doesn’t mean I am God’s appointed messenger to set them straight. If I can’t trust Him to address their issues, I might have a few of my own.
Being humble enough to pray. When we don’t ask God for help, it’s because we think we don’t need any help. Too often, I am guilty of this even in my service to God and His church.
I am sure you can think of more. Between now and eternity, we will always struggle with pride because of our sinful flesh. But as believers, we have the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us, transforming us to be more and more like the Son of God over time as we cooperate with Him. He wants us to discover the joy of dying to ourselves and trusting the Father to meet our every need. He wants His church to be a place where His unconditional love is on display in the way His little brothers and sisters treat each other. This week, how could you practice humility in your relationships with the people closest to you?