Humility or Humiliation?

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Last week we read John chapter 13 in which Jesus washed his disciples' feet. These are the words that got me thinking:
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:12-17  (emphasis added)
We got to talking about the person who had to wash the donkey poop off of people's feet when they came in off the street, and how it was the job of the least important servant in the house.

Jesus was the most important person in the house (or town, or universe...) but He chose to do the job of the least important servant to show us how he wants us to view ourselves.

Sometimes I enjoy riding these "thought trains" because they get me searching for the next thing to "see" on the journey. I remembered reading another passage not too long ago about the same thing:

"When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher.' Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:8-11 (emphasis added)

  If we don't humble ourselves, we often end up humiliated!

hu-mil-i-ty  quality of being humble; modest sense of one's own significance. Syn. lowliness, meekness. Ant. pride.

hu-mil-i-ate v.t.  to lower the pride or self-respect of; cause a painful loss of difnity to; mortify Syn. degrade, abase, debase; dishonor, disgrace, shame  Ant. exalt, honor

(I like using old dictionaries because they have more explanatory explanations so this is from the American College Dictionary published in 1948.)

 Humility is something that we do ourselves.

So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, "Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me." Exodus 10:3

"And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight..." 2 Samuel 6:22

And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. 2 Chronicles 33:23

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. Ezra 8:21

Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. Daniel 10:12

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10


Humiliation is something that happens to us.

You will save the humble people; But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down. 2 Samuel 22:28

When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

A man's pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. Proverbs 29:23

'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Remove the turban, and take off the crown; Nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted. Ezekiel 21:26

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

When we do not have "a modest sense of our own significance," embarrasment is almost always in our future. Sometimes it is our own doing, and sometimes it is from the Lord. Maybe that's why we are also told not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12:3)

About 11 years ago, I participated in a "Young Homemaker" contest for the county fair in our state. I had entered the contest once before but when I saw the wonderful women I was up against, I knew that I did not have a chance of winning and decided not to try for it again - - until a few years later when some friends convinced me to try it one more time.

The day of the interview, I had another appointment afterwards, but the judges (who were travelling from another county) were late. As soon as they arrived, they were made aware of my situation so they asked me to accompany them into the interview room while they collected themselves. They asked random questions and apologized for being so unprepared. I assured them that they had not utterly ruined my day and set them at ease. This is the only thing that I can imagine must have stood out in their minds because, trust me, I am not a better homemaker than all of the other women there! (As I meet new women throughout my life, I am continually amazed at how God has created so much worth and value and beauty in women everywhere.)

The women who head up the program in that county told each of us to prepare a speech to deliver at the big event where the winner would be announced - just in case. I did not really think that I had won (though I hoped I had!) and I had done so much public speaking in 4-H and the ministry that I worked for that I thought I could just wing it IF I actually won.

The day came and, lo and behold, I won! I got up to deliver the speech for which I had not prepared and made a fool of myself as I searched for appropriate words. I still have no idea what I said except for calling it a "perk" of homemaking. I still cringe when I think about it. I had to give another speech the next year as I passed off the crown to the new winner. You had better believe that I was prepared that time! Not only was I prepared, but I was terrified and nervous - a feeling that I'd not had much experience with when it came to public speaking until then, and one that accompanies me (to a lesser degree) to this day because I know what a short walk it is from pride to humiliation.

I am sure that there are many Christians who will confess that their experience has been very much like my own—that we had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart should be the distinguishing feature of the disciple, as they were of the Master. Such humility is not a thing that will come on its own. It must be made the object of special desire, prayer, faith and practice.
Andrew Murray

What lessons have you learned about humility or humiliation?

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