Years ago I knew a young evangelist who would tirelessly hand out flyers and speak to passersby in a plaza close to church throughout the week. He had the appearance of a humble Christian, and he worked harder than a lot of young men I knew for the sake of the gospel. But one day a fellow evangelist noticed that he only gave flyers to people who looked underprivileged (which was a great thing), but refused to pay any attention to those who looked like they came from a higher pay grade. When he was asked why, he responded with contempt that “those rich people are all proud, I don’t waste my time on them.” But when his fellow evangelist was friendly to everyone who was willing to have a conversation, whether they were well-off or poor, this young man became angry, and sulked all the way back to the church. His seeming humility was just for show. His religiosity caused him to reject others who he deemed unworthy of compassion.
Being humble means knowing your place before God, and doing exactly what He wants of you no matter how you feel or what you want. That implies that you don’t do anything that conflicts with God’s ways, even if others pressure you. It also means being humble will at times make you seem very proud, rebellious, anti-social, fanatical, and downright crazy. Moses was seen as all of those, and so was our Lord Jesus. All of the disciples walked that same path of criticism, so who do we think we are to preserve our reputation when we claim to follow God? Being humble is risky, and requires raw faith and courage.
“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all the men on the face of the earth,” says Numbers 12:3. The picture most of us have of humbleness, is someone so meek that they become passive. Just doormats for others to walk all over. Moses was nothing like that. Sure, there were times when he was quiet to hear God speak, or patiently waited for the right time to act even though it seemed like God was taking too long. When the Israelites were so stubborn that God’s anger was about to wipe them out, it was Moses’ compassionate cry to God for mercy that saved them all. Humility fights, believes, obeys and stands firm. True humility is strength – not passivity.
If God asked you to face the most powerful and ruthless leader of the world, march into his royal palace and demand that he hand over all of his slaves knowing that he could slice off your head at any moment, would you do it? That boldness doesn’t match the world’s definition of humility, but that’s what God saw in Moses. Perhaps all that God is asking you to do today is to finally break off that unhealthy relationship with someone you’ve been emotionally dependent on for years. Maybe it’s finally having that talk with your pastor about the hidden sin that you’ve been struggling with in shame, or to finally show kindness to those people you’ve always had contempt for. Unlike Moses, there are no death threats or armies involved, just the fear of letting go of your security blanket. Will you do it?
If you won’t, then know this: you are not humble. You still believe that your own way is superior to God’s. You may even have very spiritual sounding reasons for resisting Him, and look like a dedicated Christian. But His word warns, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) The last thing you want is to have God’s hand turned against you, and there’s only one way to be given His grace. By being humble.
“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good— and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:7-8 MEV