“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
A PROPER RELATIONSHIP TO GOD REQUIRES HUMILITY: THE REVERENT RECOGNITION THAT WE ARE SUBORDINATE TO HIS RULE. When we seek God, we must not barge into His throne room demanding to receive the recognition we think we’re due. We must instead offer ourselves to Him humbly, willing and grateful to occupy whatever place He pleases to put us in. In the realm of spiritual things, it is our pride that has gotten us into trouble, and if our relationship to God is ever to be improved, the trait of humility is one we’ll have to learn.
What is needed from us, however, is more than the pretense of humility. Our efforts to appear humble often backfire because they concentrate on the maintenance of a mere image. But without character, image is worthless, and humble words can never substitute for the real thing, which is humble thinking. True humility means we have an honest inward view of our own limitations, and this is different from the “modesty” of the person who sees himself as so great that he congratulates himself for remaining so humble. The truth is, very few of us have any reason to be anything other than humble! As Golda Meir once said to a certain individual whose mock humility came from an exaggerated view of his own talents, “Don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.”
Perhaps we are tempted to pride because of our emptiness. Broken and degraded by sin, we would like to be much more than we are right now. In our frustration, we listen to voices that tell us to take control of our own destiny. But although we desperately need the joy that is nowadays called “self-fulfillment,” the more we strive for it, the more it seems to elude us. In this regard, fulfillment is much like happiness, which is not attained by direct effort but rather comes as a by-product of focusing on other things. In a similar way, if we lift ourselves up in a conscious effort to feel significant, the long-term results are bound to be disappointing. But when we humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God,” then we find ourselves experiencing an exaltation that could not have been achieved by any amount of striving.
“Pride is the cold mountain peak, sterile and bleak; humility is the quiet valley fertile and abounding in life, and peace lives there” (Anne Austin).