Many assume that humility has to do primarily with how you think about yourself. If you “lower” yourself, then you’re humble. But that’s not true. You can’t arrive at humility by focusing on yourself. Humility has more to do with how you think about others and God.
Humility is the daily decision to think of others as more important than yourself. It’s the daily decision to humble yourself under God’s mighty hand. It’s not putting yourself down, but putting others and God up. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it more succinctly, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” is so misunderstood.
The cowardly approach: “You live your life, and I’ll live mine.” Jesus clearly did not mean this.
We must be discerning and even willing to label that behavior which is right and wrong.
Jesus’ admonition has more to do with judging people’s thoughts and motives, which we clearly are never in a position to do. Only God is.
Jesus teaches us 3 things about what it means to be nonjudgmental:
- Don’t say 1 thing and do another–don’t be a hypocrite.
- Judge yourself rightly and makes changes first–show integrity.
- Give to others the same kind of grace and forgiveness that God has given you–make sure you show mercy.
Hypocrisy (no. 1) is focusing on the speck in another person’s eyes while ignoring the 2X4 plank in our own eye. Integrity is removing the board from your own eye. Mercy is removing the speck from another’s eye.
Are there places in your life where you see a tendency to be judgmental of others?
Idols are anything that replace God on the throne of our life. And believe it or not, a common idol in the Christian community is elevating doctrinal truth over God Himself. This occurs when people rely on the “rightness” of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God Himself and His grace.
The sign that you have made religion an idol is when you show contempt and disdain for those of other denominations or religions rather than graciousness. Trusting in the rightness of our views can make us feel superior if the fruit of the spirit is not growing in ourselves.
If you’ve ever had a “live” Christmas tree decorating your house for Christmas, you know that a tree will hold its needles for only so long. You can water the base of the tree, but it will only keep it flourishing for so long. Eventually, the needles turn brown and fall off. The sap begins to run, and the tree will finally die. Then we take it to the curb for disposal.
But what about that time in between the tree being cut down and finally dying? We take it into our living room, stick it in a stand, and decorate it with ornaments and tinsel and lights. We make it look as rich and beautiful as we can, only to throw it away a month later. Cutting a tree from its source of life and making it look good for a season, in the end, accomplishes little else than seasonal beauty.
It might seem silly to think of yourself as a Christmas tree, but is it far off? Away from God, we can survive only for a time before we perish in the dry air of consumerism. The things that make a Christmas tree beautiful are the color of its needles, the way the branches fall, its fragrance, and the texture of its bark. Cut the tree down and all that eventually goes away. The underground water supply livens the tree’s roots. The root system gives the tree its strength, the rich soil that holds the roots all together, nourishing and securing the trunk and limbs. The tree needs the underground source to make it beautiful to the world. Its beauty emerges because of the inner work.
It’s the same for us. The very essence of our being comes from within. But when something other than God defines us, we reduce ourselves to Christmas trees, beautiful on the outside, perched on our stands, while dying inside. For some of us, our root systems scare us. Our insides are mangled by past mistakes and feelings of insecurity. These emotions confuse us, making it difficult to find our true selves. It’s easier to put on our tinsel and lights and walk around looking good.
Our culture has tried to define us by what we see on the outside. But it can’t erase the moments of self-doubt. We need to feel loved and known for who we are on the inside. Ultimately only God can do that.
If you want your children to model self-control in their lives, then you must show them self-control in yours.
This is an area I feel like I have not done so well. I need to place all my “control” into the hands of God.
How to control the “stress” that leads to my outbursts of frustration and anger?
- Avoid negative people (Proverbs 22:24).
- Avoid knee-jerk responses when aggravated by others (James 3:2).
- Show control in the midst of chaos or emergency (James 1:26).
- Beg God to give you peace and understanding (Philippians 4:7).
I’ve been known to dabble into politics now and then even though I carefully keep it out of the pulpit unless there is a clear-cut moral issue addressed by the Bible. But I really don’t get caught up into it as much as I used to. Looking back now, there was a time it was probably an idol. I have to be careful it doesn’t become one again. Here are some signs to look for to know whether or not poltics has become an idol in your life.
- FEAR! If our views are threatened by those in power, our response will be complete panic. I remember doing that when Clinton got elected. Anytime we believe that if OUR politicies and people are not in power that everything will fall apart we’re demonstrating fear.
- DEMONIZATION! Our opponents are not considered to be simply mistaken but to be evil. When we go down that road, we’re idolizing our brand of politics and it’s ultimately dangerous.
Can you add any other symptoms of idolizing politics?
If I could choose one place to be perfect, it would be in my parenting. Every word, every action has an impact on my children–often in ways I don’t see or understand.
That doesn’t mean they would be perfect, but when they’re 40 and in therapy they could never say, “I’m this way because my dad….”
What about you? Where would you choose to be perfect?