There’s an old song that says, “What the world needs now is love sweet love.” I’m going to change that lyrics by one word: What the world needs now is humility sweet humility!
For a while I couldn’t put my finger on what was annoying and agitating me so much when I read the news and social media. Then it struck me: everyone is so self-absorbed that we’ve lost our ability to be civil, polite, deferential, and basically decent people. Our society has become more adversarial because everyone thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong. Worse, in my mind, is when someone is proved wrong that they can’t admit it and even sometime continue spouting off in their wrongness!
I know what I’m talking about because I used to be one of those people. Before my personal awakening, I was dang-near narcissistic – I knew EVERYTHING and was right about even more! Then God shook me up in a very powerful and painful way! He taught me about humility through a series of personal tribulations – turns out I wasn’t always the smartest guy in the room after all!
When that happened, I embraced a scripture verse as my “life verse.” A life verse is one that you don’t just memorize but you do everything you can to live out! Here’s mine from Philippians 2:3-5:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
This verse was a game-changer for me. Instead of putting myself, my ideas, my opinions, my needs, my thoughts, my desires, my dreams, my goals, and my comfort first, I intentionally put others’ before myself. It was a very humbling process but one that has been personally and spiritually enriching. Here are some of the key things I’ve learned:
- You have to listen in order to hear people not just to respond to what they are saying
- You have to have patience with people, bearing with them when it is difficult
- You have to disagree in an agreeable way
- You have to think before you speak and act so as not to make your brother fall as scripture says
- You have to pick your battles – you learn that not every comment or act needs a response
- Likewise, you have to think before you speak or write to make sure what you are saying is encouraging others not tearing them down
- You have to respect people that are different than you
- You have to genuinely love EVERYONE even those with whom you strongly disagree
- You have to admit when you are wrong
- You also have to admit when someone else is right even if you don’t actually like their position on an issue
- You have to separate someone’s words/actions from their personhood – hate the sin but love the sinner
- And you have to admit that you are not God – you are not the center of the universe!
I firmly believe that if we all did this – even if just the professed Christians did this – we could have a much more civil and pleasant discourse in our society than the one we are having today.
However, I fear that we have become so selfish and self-centered that it will be extremely difficult as a society to pull back from the edge of this cliff. Understand that selfishness is sin – choosing yourself and your ways over God and His ways. Also understand that Satan tempts you every moment of every day to think of yourself first not God, yet God gives you a way out of that temptation each and every time – we just don’t take it.
My encouragement to you today is this: Humble yourself before the Lord. Consider others better than yourself. Serve others instead of expecting them to serve you. Listen with compassion, empathy, and understanding. Speak words of encouragement that lift people up. Sacrifice yourself for the betterment of others. Love your enemies to the point where they are no longer enemies! Pray for those who persecute you – one cannot hate someone for whom they pray. Stop responding to the world the way unbelievers respond – respond as Jesus has taught you. Do this, and you may just change the world!