We must become filled with the humility of Jesus for God to give us power.
Welcome to “Inside The Cup Podcast” with Mike and Holly Walsh
Season 1: “How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”
Episode 10: “Getting Humility Right”
Could it be the reason we hear so little about humility in the church today, is we misunderstand what humility truly means?
Mike and Holly introduce a fresh look at humility from the teaching of Andrew Murray. Murray defines humility as “dependence upon God.” To the degree we depend on God for everything, is the degree to which we are humble.
Our current cultural misconceptions surrounding humility are discussed, and then contrasted with the humility of Jesus. The challenge is made to make the humility of Jesus a top priority in the journey of discipleship, actively seeking it with our surrendered hearts.
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Getting Humility Right | Episode 10, (07/14/22)
Season 1: How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Holly: Welcome back to Inside The Cup Podcast. Last week we talked about emotional maturity, or coming to terms with our feelings, particularly our desires. This week we’re going to be talking about humility.
Mike: Yeah, so once we’ve progressed some with our spiritual and our emotional maturity, we’re then ready to move on to fostering a genuine humility.
Holly: So, let’s get this whole humility thing right. So, what do you mean by a genuine humility?
Mike: When we take a look at this topic of humility, what we’ll find…a few different things we’ll find, one, we find that it’s kind of painfully absent in our current Christian context. But two, it seems like we don’t quite have a solid grasp on what this whole idea of humility is. So, let’s try to dive into some of that here.
Holly: So, Andrew Murray wrote one of the most well-known books on humility. Guess what it’s called? Humility.
Mike: Aptly titled book.
Holly: And he said that humility is “the only soil in which virtue takes root.” And “a lack of humility is the explanation of every defect and failure.” “Humility is the first and most essential element of discipleship,” and “without humility we will have no abiding faith, or love, or joy, or strength.” Murray is basically suggesting that without humility we will not progress in Christlike character.
Mike: Yeah, look at some of these statements that he makes. “It’s the first and most essential element of discipleship,” without humility we don’t even have “the soil” that virtues take root in. I mean, he’s placing this humility, way up there. This is a big deal.
Holly: And he wrote this back in like 1884, but I hear very little about humility in the church, or just part of Christian living.
Mike: Let’s view that as kind of a cultural artifact then of our time. So, Murray wrote this back in 1884, that was a long time ago, very different from our modern context. So, let’s take a look at what humility looks like now, in modern life.
Holly: That sounds good, because I can’t remember the last time, I’ve ever heard a sermon preached on the meaning of humility, or the importance of it in the Christian journey.
Mike: Yeah, or even just think, have you heard a sermon titled or devoted completely to humility? And if so, how many of them? It’s obviously not a very frequent topic.
Holly: Well, I feel like probably pride is mentioned more often than humility.
Mike: Or even if a sermon is entitled “humility,” you know, spending very little time on what humility actually is, or its place of importance. And just kind of quickly goes into a sermon based on pride. So, we seem to be more comfortable discussing pride, and what that is, and what that means, then on discussing humility. So, what does humility look like now? I mean, what are some examples when you think of humility being mentioned in everyday life?
Holly: I guess I think of thinking lower of myself, or being OK with being humiliated somehow.
Mike: Yeah, it’s this way of bringing yourself down, it’s like this self-deprecating thing. Or if you can kind of lower yourself in front of others, that makes you a humble person.
Holly: Yeah, or choosing to not receive credit for something that you deserve.
Mike: Yeah, so let’s take an example: so, if you do something notable, you know, you accomplish something, and somebody comes to give you a compliment on it says, “Wow, that was really great what you did.” If somebody’s response is, you know, “It was nothing,” or you know, “I just got lucky on that,” or you know, or, dodging it and deflecting it, “It was actually, you know, this person is the real person to acknowledge, they did all the work, and I was just the messenger.” You know, you would look at somebody like that, that had that response, and say, commonly I think in our culture you’d say, “Whoa, that’s…that person is really humble.” “That was a really humble response.”
Holly: Almost like you would decline to accept the honor or the recognition, and that makes you a humble person.
Mike: Yeah, it’s like you have the self-control to choose to not indulge in that praise or recognition, and that’s what makes you humble, is you can decide not to indulge in that.
Holly: Yeah, like a hypothetical example of this would be, at least as a stay-at-home mom, someone gives you a compliment of, “Oh, you potty trained so early,” or, “Your kid’s so good at this, you must have been so disciplined.” And “Way to go on doing these things,” and then you just play it off as, like “Oh it’s nothing. It was really just my kid that really did it. I didn’t really have anything to do with it.”
Mike: And you’re just quick to kind of brush that off or downplay that somehow.
Holly: We just think that that’s the good Christian thing to do is, not to accept recognition or honor. To make ourselves look more lowly.
Mike: So, this is one of our false conceptions on this idea of humility is, this way of deflecting uncomfortable attention from yourself, would make you a humble person. Another way we see it is in this kind of strange, almost willingness or desire to be humiliated, would make you a humble person. For example, if somebody is talking publicly, and they get vulnerable, and admit certain faults, or…
Holly: It’s almost like, “Oh, that person’s more humble, or mature.”
Mike: Yeah, that willingness to step out and take a risk, and be willing to be humiliated in front of others, that makes you humble somehow.
Holly: I think that’s why Murray was suggesting that the reason we hear so little about humility in the church, is because of how badly we misunderstand what humility actually even means.
Mike: Well, that makes sense. That’s why you would hear it preached so little in church sermons, it talked about so little in the church, or in Christian circles. If we don’t really have a solid understanding on, what in the world it is, or its place or importance in the Christian life, that’s probably why it’s out in the margins like that, and not discussed.
Holly: So, let’s define humility. And Murray’s definition is: “humility is dependence upon God.”
Mike: Our ability to depend on God. To the degree I depend on God for everything, is the degree to which I am a humble person.
Holly: Now that makes sense! Why we must experience some growth, some emotional and spiritual maturity, before we’re ready to grow in humility.
Mike: Yeah, think about what we talked about with these definitions of spiritual and emotional maturity. Spiritual maturity, being ready to give up self-will, in favor of what God wills. Emotional maturity, coming to terms with your desires. Not having to get what you want. So, you’re learning to not depend on yourself and self-will, now you need something better to depend on, and that’s God. So, you’re teed up quite nicely for humility now. And, you can see it as a prerequisite. I mean, if you haven’t come to terms with your self-will, and your desires, you’re not ready to depend on God, and grow in humility.
Holly: No, you’re ready to be dependent on yourself.
Mike: So, that’s why those steps have to proceed humility. Spiritual maturity, emotional maturity come first, and that prepares us to be in a good position to take on humility.
Holly: So, what’s pride then?
Mike: Well, pride is just the absence of humility.
Holly: So, not depending on God.
Mike: Yeah, depending on self still. Still in that self-life. We’re all very familiar with that. We live in self-will, we live in pride, so we’re very familiar with what pride is.
Holly: So, if Murray wasn’t clear enough on the importance of humility, there’s even an older figure, William law, that discussed pride and humility. And listen to this quote, “The Truth is: Pride must die in you, or nothing of Heaven can live in you…The one is Death, and the other is Life; the one is all Hell, and the other is all Heaven. So much as you have of Pride, so much you have of the fallen Angel alive in you; so much you have of true Humility; so much you have of the Lamb of God within you.”
Mike: Try that on for size! He’s suggesting that the amount of pride we have in us, is how much we still have Satan ruling in our lives. And the amount of humility, is how much we actually have Jesus enthroned in our lives. I mean, we tend to brush off pride like it’s…it’s this kind of unflattering character flaw. That, you know, it’s not that big of a deal, but William Law’s really calling that into account here.
Holly: So, what’s the solution? I mean, if we’re going to talk about cleaning the inside of our cup?
Mike: Well, this is obviously a huge step in the process of cleaning the inside of the cup. If…if what Murray and Law are hinting at here, this importance of humility, we’ve got to get this down, and we’ve got to address this. Because this plays a huge role in the process of changing, for the good, inwardly.
Holly: So, we must be filled with the humility of Jesus.
Mike: That’s what it looks like for a human being to be humble, or to be filled with humility. We look to Jesus, that’s our model. So, let’s take maybe our…our current cultural understanding or use of the word humility, like we talked about earlier, and now Murray’s notion of humility, that it’s this dependence on God, and superimpose it on Jesus. I mean, we’ve got…if he’s our model, and he’s the person that’s, you know, full of humility, it should make sense, our definition of humility, when we look at his life, his character.
Holly: And it’s kind of funny if you were to put it in our cultural definition, or how a lot of times we hear it talked about, kind of, in Christian circles. I mean, give Jesus a compliment, like “Way to go, you really gave a great Sermon on the Mount there!”
Mike: Somebody gives him a compliment afterwards, “Wow that was a great message you delivered!” And his response is like,
Holly: “Yeah, you know.”
Mike: “I just got lucky on that one.” You know, “It wasn’t really me, it was, I mean, honestly it was…it was all Moses. And David, I mean, that’s really kind of where I steal all my material from, you know.”
Holly: Or like, “Way to go turning that water into wine!” Like, “Oh, it’s not a big deal.” I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous when you think of Jesus saying that. Would he really like? Could you imagine Jesus just being like, “Oh it wasn’t that big a deal,” like, “I mean, someone had to do it. It wasn’t… Someone needed to make the wine, like appear.”
Mike: So, it doesn’t fit. So, what we’re using as humility now, in common usage, doesn’t fit, if you try to apply it to Jesus, who is the model of humility.
Holly: It doesn’t just “not fit,” it’s kind of ridiculous.
Mike: It seems silly.
Holly: It’s silly, Yeah, and if you think about Jesus now in terms of Murray’s definition of “dependence upon God,” Jesus was constantly depending upon his Father, for everything he did.
Mike: Yeah, you just look at some of the references he makes in the gospel of John. I mean, listen to these statements that Jesus makes: “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19). “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30). “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me” (John 7:16). “He who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world…I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:26, 28). So, I mean, these statements abound in the Scripture, of Jesus talking about his utter dependence on his Father.
Holly: And one of the best passages to reflect on the humility of Jesus, is the “kenosis” passage in Philippians chapter 2.
Mike: Yeah, the “kenosis.” I mean, just reflect on this: if we really want to get a sense of what humility looks like, and Jesus is our model, think about that. So, Jesus, the Word of God, the second member in this all-powerful Trinity. He gives up everything to take on the limitations of a human body. And he comes down here to Earth, to live among us in complete dependence on his Father.
Holly: So, how do we become full of the humility of Jesus?
Mike: We’ve talked about this on previous steps. None of these steps in inner character growth are going to happen by our own effort. It’s going to require some effort, but we’re really counting on the grace of God to make this happen. So, if it turns out we’ve become humble, or filled with the humility of Jesus, it’s by the grace of God that that became a reality in our life.
Holly: But we’re not to be passive in this process. The first step is to understand what humility is, which we have taken some time to discuss today. The next step is to seek it.
Mike: To genuinely seek humility. I mean, we talked about with spiritual maturity, of it being a matter of choosing what we think about, choosing to think about what God wants us to think about. Well, here’s a big thing to think about. We’ve mentioned how it’s kind of painfully absent in the church. The suggestion here is that humility would actually be on the forefront of our minds. That we’re regularly choosing to set our mind on this idea of humility, and on the humility of Jesus.
Holly: So, here’s some practical ways we can go about seeking humility, some spiritual disciplines.
Mike: A couple disciplines in particular we can look at with reference to seeking humility. One is scripture memorization. We talked about this “kenosis” passage, Philippians 2. That’s one thing we can do practically, is sit down and memorize Philippians chapter 2. Particularly, these verses 1-16. We bring these ideas into our mind, they become a part of our body, they work their way into us.
Holly: Or another spiritual discipline could be fasting.
Mike: Yeah, fasting is a great discipline to practice when we’re seeking humility. I mean, at first when you start fasting, you just can’t stop thinking about how hungry you are all the time. That’s the initial stage, “Man, I’m hungry from all this fasting!” But it doesn’t stay there. I mean, as you learn to fast, you learn to practice that discipline, it goes beyond that initial stage of just thinking about how hungry you are all the time. And what you move into, or move towards, is learning to draw in your nourishment and sustenance from a different world. From that unseen world that surrounds us all the time.
Holly: I love how Dallas Willard put this, and he said, “fasting is actually feasting on God.”
Mike: That’s what we’re doing when we learn how to fast. And that’s a way that can teach us to be more dependent on God. Once we’ve grown some in this area of humility, we’re ready to go on to the next step in the inner transformation of the person, which is faith. And we’ll talk about that next week.
Music: Vlad Gluschenko — Travelling
License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en