I expect you all know the meaning of the words arrogance and pride. Here is what Webster says:
Arrogance: an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.
Pride: a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people, a feeling that you are more important or better than other people.
Humility should be the opposite of pride and arrogance, right? Here is what Webster says:
Humble: not proud, not thinking of yourself as better than other people; given or said in a way that shows you do not think you are better than other people; showing that you do not think of yourself as better than other people.
When we become religious we can claim humility but actually express our beliefs in arrogance and pride. I hope that doesn’t hurt too much to hear it that way. Maybe you just don’t agree at all. Let me see if I can explain and share a little revelation. (When I say religion I mean the self-righteous, self-improvement program that works out of human effort, recognizes a God as a judge and expects perfect behavior out of its members (or else)).
In Christianity (the religion not the faith) humility is usually defined as a self-professed unworthiness. Still these “humble servants” will gladly share their information about their membership requirements and encourage others to sign up or else. Evangelism takes the form of “turn or burn” and includes lists and facts to prove a position. I don’t think that is Biblical humility. Here is a verse you might be familiar with:
Phil 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV)
The word “humbled” is this word: tapeinóō (“show humility, true lowliness”) happens by being fully dependent on the Lord – dismissing reliance upon self (self-government) and emptying carnal ego. This exalts the Lord as our all-in-all and prompts the gift of His fullness in us.
Is there anything in that definition that implies our worthlessness? Humble as it is defined here is positional not conditional. It is a person’s countenance towards another not a self-imposed evaluation. Jesus went as low as you can go to surrender Himself to death on the cross and was still the creator of the universe.
So when we meet someone what is our position? Do we see ourselves as above the other because we have special knowledge? Is it possible that we actually don’t know everything anyway? Maybe our knowledge is less important than our position. Maybe our conversation should be an expression of humility instead of a lecture.
I was taught that we should always be ready in and out of season to share what we know about Jesus. That boiled down to some scripture (facts) that revealed “the other person was a miserable sinner bound for hell and the only way out was to agree with what I believed.” We used to call it catchy things like “The Romans Road” or “The Five Steps of Salvation.” The problem is Jesus never did that, not even close.
Maybe we have completely missed the point. The definition of Evangelist is messenger (or Angel) of good news. How is telling someone they don’t know something that you claim to know good news? Even if you are right, completely right, how can your facts change their position? A persuasive argument never changes a person’s heart. God does that. A list of salient points doesn’t win a person for Jesus but instead implies their ignorance. What if our “good news” is their importance to God? What if our “message” is about their reconciliation to their Father?
As a believer in a relationship with our awesome Abba Father we know we are blessed. We know we are recipients of His Grace. We know Jesus and we host the Holy Spirit. We have everything going for us. God is on our side so who could be against us? Jesus defeated the enemy so who can lie to us? The Holy Spirit guides us and comforts us. We want to see others find the same relationship. The problem is we think it is a debate when it should be a demonstration. The demonstration is divine humility.
Maybe we have missed the point. Maybe it is one of those forest and tree things. What if the person you meet is actually an opportunity for us to meet Jesus?
Matt 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’
Here is the revelation…
I think Jesus encountered people in such a way that He received from them as much as they received from Him. Jesus told His disciples that He had food they didn’t understand. I believe when Jesus healed the leper He was as excited as the leper. I believe that for Jesus meeting that man was His blessing too. I believe the leper was the most important person on the planet in that moment and Jesus was excited to meet him.
I believe this is our expression of humility. We don’t have to convince people of anything. The Holy Spirit is the real evangelist. The goodness of God brings people into the family. Our persuasive arguments are just arrogance and pride in disguise. We get to demonstrate the Kingdom of Heaven as God’s ambassadors. That should look like Jesus. When we meet someone they should feel like the most important and loved person on the planet. We should approach people with a heart to learn not lecture. Every encounter we have is an opportunity to meet Jesus and be His expression.
This completely changes the way I approach people. I now want to know their story. I want to receive from them. I want them to know they are important. I want them to know they are loved by God. He loves them that much. He is that good. The people you meet are the most important people on the planet. Jesus died to prove it.