“He leads the humble in what is right and the humble He teaches His way” Psalm 25:9 (AMP).
Living a life with humility is hard! I suspect most of you will agree. Human relationships and interactions are inevitable. We encounter people daily and, let’s face it, not all of those interactions are pleasant. Some, in fact, are downright burdensome. The struggle is real. Even as I sit here now, I am faced with making tough decisions about some difficult relationships. Can you relate?
Society has become incredibly selfish and narcissistic. We live in an “all about me … woe is me” world where attention-seekers and crazy-makers (the people who make you crazy) abound. Many any of us likely experience some of these very people in our own, personal circles. We may have family members or friends who want to make us solely responsible for the relationship or for their feelings and emotions. We may have people in our lives who cannot see past their own wants and needs to notice, much less help, a person in need. We may have lopsided relationships where one side is constantly needing to be “propped up.” We may associate with those who are overly dramatic by making mountains out of molehills or believing they have it worse than anyone else. We may even have relationships with people who cannot or will not accept responsibility for their own actions and, instead, live with a sense of entitlement. These same people are oftentimes demanding, disapproving, deafening, destructive, discontented, or demeaning, and frankly, they are exhausting to be around. So, how are we to deal with these encounters when everything in us wants to give the person a well-deserved reality check? Thankfully, the Bible gives us some much needed guidance.
First, we need to get over ourselves. We must take a hard, honest look at ourselves and consider whether we have allowed pride, a high or inordinate opinion of ourselves, to take root in our own lives. If so, we must deal with it prayerfully and aggressively. In truth, God hates pride (see Proverbs 6:16-19). We must take this issue seriously because, “[e]veryone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord …” Proverbs 16:5 (AMP). Pride is a deceptive sin that keeps us from truly walking in love. It is deceptive because we are usually too proud to admit we have it. The key to preventing pride from taking root in our lives is humility … the freedom from pride or arrogance … the modest estimation of our own worth.
Second, we cannot be easily offended. “Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense” Proverbs 19:11 (AMP). I believe our emotional and spiritual maturity can be largely determined by how we treat those who mistreat us. After all, it is easy to be good to people who are good to us. Real spiritual growth occurs, however, when we choose to treat the “crazy makers” with love and humility. “Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions” Proverbs 10:12 (AMP). Reacting with humility becomes easier when we stop to consider the reason(s) behind the person’s behavior. Chances are, the reason has absolutely nothing to do with us personally. We should all pray for softer hearts and tougher skin.
Third, we must be quick to forgive. Colossians 3:13 says, “[y]ou must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT). We cannot wait for an apology before we choose to forgive. In reality, an apology may never come and refusing to forgive only hurts us. Refusing to forgive, and allowing resentment to build, would be like drinking poison hoping the other person dies. Forgiveness is for us, not them.
Fourth, as tempting as it is, we must refrain from gossiping about the “crazy makers.” With today’s technology and social media, it is increasingly popular to engage in such behaviors. Proverbs 18:8 tells us that, “[t]he words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food. People like to gobble them up” (NCV). Gossiping means sharing with others who are not a part of the problem or the solution. By engaging in gossip, we are encouraging others to sin along with us. The Bible tells us, however, we must refrain from such activities. “When someone does something bad to you, do not do the same thing to him. When someone talks about you, do not talk about him. Instead, pray that good will come to him. You were called to do this so you might receive good things from God” I Peter 3:9 (NLV).
Fifth, do not allow yourself to be drawn into reasonless game playing. Oftentimes when we encounter difficult situations or people, we are tempted to answer with reason or logic. We want the person to understand why their thinking or behavior is wrong. The problem with this approach, however, is that their behavior was based on emotions, not reason. Their motivation came from feelings, not logic. In reality, you cannot talk a person out of a behavior they did not reasonably talk themselves into. Thomas Paine once said, “to argue with a person who has denounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
Sixth, we must always take the high, narrowly traveled road. While we cannot control what other people do or say, we can and must control our response. “Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:17-18 (AMP). Real humility involves loving the unlovable.
Of all the Christian virtues, humility is probably the most difficult to develop. We need to spend time with God, devote time to studying humility, and experience tests where we are forced to apply it. Growing in humility by enduring the struggles is worth it, however. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “[t]herefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you” (AMP). We must learn to humble ourselves so that at the right time God can lift us to a place of extraordinary freedom.
© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.