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Archive for Humility


A Checklist for Humility

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As you can note from my reading list, I have included a book that is a compilation of men and women from antiquity who have written on the subject of spiritual formation. We have Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith to thank for sifting through thousands of pages to produce a work that I use in my daily readings.

I’m not one to simply recount the work of others, but when I came across the work of Jeremy Taylor (1613-1677) on the subject of humility, I found it too good to keep to myself. Taylor, in his book titled, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, shares twenty (20) points on humility.

  1. Do not think better of yourself because of any outward circumstance that happens to you.
  2. Humility does not consist in criticizing yourself, or wearing ragged clothes, or walking around submissively wherever you go. Humility consists of a realistic opinion of yourself.
  3. When you hold this opinion of yourself, be content that others think the same of you.
  4. Nurture a love to do good things in secret, concealed from the eyes of others, and therefore not highly esteemed because of them.
  5. Never be ashamed of your birth, of your parents, or your present employment, or the lowly status of any of them.
  6. Never say anything, directly or indirectly, that will provoke praise or elicit compliments from others.
  7. When you do receive praise for something you have done, take it indifferently and return it to God (or reflect it back to God).
  8. Make a good name for yourself by being a person of virtue and humility.
  9. Do not take pride in any praise given to you.
  10. Do not ask others about your faults with the intent or purpose to have others tell you of your good qualities.
  11. When you are slighted by someone, or feel undervalued, do not harbor any secret anger, supposing that you actually deserved praise or they neglected to praise you because of their own envy.
  12. Do not entertain any of the devil’s whispers of pride, which will only expose the heart’s true wishes.
  13. Take an active part in the praising of others, celebrating their good with delight.
  14. Be content when you see or hear that others are doing well in their jobs and with their income, even when you are not.
  15. Never compare yourself with others unless it be to advance your impression of them and lower your impression of yourself.
  16. The truly humble person will not only look admirably at the strengths of others, but will also look with great forgiveness upon the weaknesses of others.
  17. Do not constantly try to excuse all of your mistakes.
  18. Give God thanks for every weakness, fault, and imperfection you have.
  19. Do not expose others’ weaknesses in order to make them feel less able than you.
  20. Remember that what is most important to God is that we submit ourselves and all that we have to him.

Taylor concludes with this insight: “Humility begins as a gift from God, but it is increased as a habit we develop. That is, humility is increased by exercising it.”

Like me, you’ve probably thought of most of these at one time or another. I’m thankful Jeremy Taylor had the discipline to put all of them in a listing that can be used as a checklist for my personal progress.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up on honor.” (James 4:10 NLT)

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Check Out Your Equipment:: 1

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Last week I posted a series on worship. I defined worship as “our appropriate response to the self-disclosure of God.” The value of corporate worship is that it energizes the church for its mission beyond the walls. As we present our bodies and become renewed in our minds, we are able to discern God’s will and direction for the body. This past weekend in worship I shared the second element of training camp: checking out our equipment.

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3, NLT).

The first challenge Paul offers following his words on worship is that we should pursue genuine humility. Humility was a cardinal virtue of the early church, a philosophy that was totally counter culture to Greek and Roman thought. The value in Paul’s thinking was that humility would keep believers from becoming status conscious. Humility is not thinking less of oneself than is reasonable, but simply taking on an honest self perception.

An accurate self estimation, though, requires a point of reference. In today’s culture, we estimate our value on the basis of comparing ourselves with others. Am I smarter than those I work with? Do my kids have a higher G.P.A.? Do I make more than my peers? Do I have a nicer home or a more expensive car? Is my spouse more physically attractive that the spouses of others? Am I thinner than my friends and neighbors? When we lack true humility, those questions creep into our heads. The problem with such comparisons is that we seek out the company of those who feed our ego. Every Scott Farkus needs a “toadie” to validate himself.

In the Kingdom of God, we estimate ourselves on the basis of “the faith God has given us.” Our standard of measure is not our neighbor; it is the Lord Jesus himself. When Jesus is our point of reference, we are able to find our true self worth. Our significance is in Him. And when Christ is our source of significance, we can worry less about “self confidence” and more about “God confidence.”

Categories : Equipping, Humility, Romans
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