Humility arises from the Latin word, “humilis.” The Google dictionary defines humility as: a low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.
One of my Christian spiritual pillars and friends pointed out the following verse to me many years ago. For a while, I used this as a mantra, which I repeated to myself whenever I started to feel offended.
He must become greater; I must become less.(Jn 3:30 NIV)
Humility is a tough trait to cultivate. God calls us to step away from ourselves, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
But what does it mean to “become humble?”
Meekness necessitates a shift in focus. Though difficult, we must look to the needs of others before our own (Philippians 2:4). While I establish people in my life who can help fill my “tank,” God calls me to learn to put myself second.
This is easiest (but by no means easy) when I like the other person and when they support, love, and encourage me. Then I can “decrease” because I feel they are worthy of that sacrifice.
But what happens when, through personal analysis and logic, I deem them unworthy of any sacrifice on my part? What happens when someone offends or hurts me?
I challenge that this situation compels the greatest demonstration of humbleness. In these moments, it’s imperative to let Jesus increase and self-focus decrease. God requires a heart change.
We need to look at the other person as a child of God, someone we are put on this earth to teach and protect. God considers us teachers of those around us, not just our kids and families, but everyone in our immediate vicinity. How we touch those God has placed in our proximity directly reflects our spiritual health.
People will wrong, hurt, and offend us, and while we don’t necessarily need to reconcile with everyone or be best friends, we do have an obligation to establish “rightness” in the relationship in such a way that both people are able and open to minister to one another or with one another should the need arise.
The world will break our hearts if we let it. When Jesus grows greater in our lives, He takes the brunt of the pain. By making ourselves small in our own eyes, we allow Jesus to protect us and enable us to extend grace and forgiveness.