Humility is not Abstinence

Philippians 2:3-8

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death
even death on a cross!

God desire us to be humble as humility is displayed greatly in Christ.  True Christlike humility is a work of the Holy Spirit cultivated through sanctification.  When we try to self manufacturer humility, it comes our as selflessness or even prideful boasting self-righteousness.  Because of our nature we turn the process in on ourselves.  We falsely believe that humility is thinking less of self, going without, our abstinence of things and sacrificing our comfort for others.  All of those acts places self in the center and the source of humility or loving our neighbors squarely on our shoulders.  Scripture says: Mark 12:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  How does abstinence shows that you are loving others as yourself?  If you love yourself would you starve yourself? thus starving your neighbors?  We see Christ as sacrificing himself for us unto death and we want to like Christ.  When we act selflessly, we are seeking others to see it and lift us up to worship us like Christ.  It is more important for us to share what we have as no one is glorified in our nakedness or starvation.  To give my portion to another when I have plenty means more.  To have humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less, yet not prompting selfishness.  Humility proves a perspective that see us as merely stewards, not having claim on anything so we give freely.  

False humility and man centerd love seeks the reaction of people as to put them in our debit.  We want to be seen and admired.  We look for people to see our selflessness and say, “wow they have given up everything and now they have nothing.  Let’s praise them and given to them.”  We seek the exalting of men and not of God.  To call yourself unselfish is really prideful.  It says, look at me as I go without so that you may have.  I desire your worship for my sacrifice.  So in our abstinence we bait the hook to receive the praise of others. We feel disrespected when we don’t receive it as others have failed to meet our expectations. We all play these games with each other as we have self serving expectations and we try to have them met by martyrdom.  We manipulate others by being unselfish in meeting their needs as to bait them in meeting our own. If we going to be humble and  love others like Jesus, just do it and stop scheming. Picking and choosing who to love.   Deciding when is the right time to show love.  Debating the return investment of our love.  Being afraid to love because we will be exploited which in the process elevates man’s power over God’s justice. What  holds us back from truly loving and having real humility is “me, myself and I”. 

Matthew 6:“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love- You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
There have been so many times I have done things looking for a reward or payback.  That is not love and is not of God, my abstinence was not humility. When the opportunity is right and the situation presents a perfect storm for our self-worship; why do we throw our selflessness in people’s faces?  Even Jesus Christ doesn’t point to he sacrifice but the Holy Spirit does it for him; humility!  In my arguing the case of not being selfish, I am indeed selfish as I seek and demand the worship of others.  It is a painful thing to hear but it’s true of me and a lot of others.  We desire exaltation so badly that we will put ourselves down in pity to be lifted up.  Our heart will justify every action and inaction because we are sinful. How great is the grace and love of God as he still has not given up on us.  Don’t let the darkness of a sinful heart cause you to despair as in our weakness the glory and power of God is shown.  God’s grace is so wonderful as Christ died for us regardless of the obvious imperfections.   The imperfections are not overlooked as the nails give proof of that.  But our Father chastises us in our sanctification as our yokes are broken.  Imagine a slave who has grown fond of his master, it was hard for the slave to leave the only life he has known.  So it is with the saved sinner, but God’s love is with us and he intends the suffering of losing self for our good.  

To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

Mere Christianity, (section on “The Great Sin), p. 128 of this edition

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