Be Humble or Be Humiliated

I saw a meme the other day where someone was asking the question, “Did you guys really say ‘all that and a bag of chips,’” in the 90s. The sad answer is yes, yes we did. That brings up an issue of struggle that many people face. Not the struggle of using terrible slang that does not age well, but the struggle of pride.

People used to (and sometimes still do) say, “he thinks he’s all that!” What they mean is, he thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think.

Romans 12:3 NKJV
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

We struggle with humility. People use words like, “entitled,” “self-centered,” “narcissistic,” or “vain” to describe people who do not see themselves properly.

Dictionary Definitions from Oxford Languages
prop·er /ˈpräpər/ adjective
truly what something is said or regarded to be; genuine.

We see a book properly, when we see it as a thing to read. We see it improperly, when, as my little brother once did, we see it as a projectile to hurl into the face of your older brother. Books aren’t physical weapons, and humans are not God.

That is, in fact, where pride leads. It leads to human beings trying to place themselves above others and eventually, if pridefulness is given its head, above God. The Devil’s pride led him to believe he could be greater than God, and then led to his fall.

Proverbs 16:18 NKJV
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

That is where pride always leads, to a fall and to destruction. I have said many times, and others may have said as well.

“Be humble or be humiliated.”

We really only have two choices. God knows that it is not good for us or for anyone else to be eaten up with pride. God will fight you in your pride. That is a fight you have zero chance of winning. But, God will give you grace in your humility.

James 4:6 NKJV
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5 NKJV
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

The Romans were proud and boastful, their boasting was celebrated, and they fell, and they were destroyed. We, in the United States, seem to chase more and more after the proud. We tend to see the humble as weak. That is a dangerous road to follow. We know where it leads.

While nations rise and fall, so do people. The pride you need to discover and attack first is the pride in your own heart. Do you see yourself as better than other people? Are you more important than other people? Do you take advice and follow it? Do you accept accountability and correction graciously? Do you think about how to serve others or only how to maintain and increase your own comfort?

There are a hundred more questions you and I could ask ourselves. At the end of the very long day, the question is:

“do I think of myself more highly than I ought?”

If so, there is hope. Humble yourself. If you are wondering how to do so, my literary mentor C.S. Lewis, offers some clarity and help:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
Mere Christianity

There is much more joy in service than in pridefulness. Like many things regarding Christ Following, you must take the plunge, so to speak, into humility, before you experience the joy. The plunge takes faith. Faith that believes that living like Jesus Christ as a humble servant, willing to suffer for others, is a good and godly thing. Faith that believes God rewards those who seek Him in faith.

Hebrews 11:6 ESV
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Everything the world tells you is perverted from the truth. The world tells you to love yourself above others. Our Lord tells you to love God the most and to love your neighbors as yourself, and to honor others better than yourself.

Luke 10:27 ESV
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Because that is what it looks like to be like Jesus Christ our King and to have the mind of Christ!

1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV
For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

If your relationships are suffering, if you are having a hard time experiencing the joy of your salvation, consider whether you are thinking of yourself more highly than you ought. Consider whether you are thinking of others as sincerely and as often as you ought.

It is joy to find our value in and through Jesus Christ and nowhere and no one else.

James 4:10 NKJV
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

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