Humble Yourselves…Lessons in Humility, Part 1

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…and He will lift you up.”  We sang these words often at church camp, as it would seem this was one of our favorite songs, but I don’t think I really understood the word “humble” in my early teenage years.  As a matter of fact, God has needed to teach me some really humbling lessons in the past few years for me to truly understand the meaning behind these words.  Thank you for joining me today for part one of my devotional topic on humility.

Food For Thought  It was very easy for me to always pat myself on the back and say “I’m so humble.”  Oh, my, that’s not very humble now, is it?  You see, I thought I was pretty humble person because I’ve always struggled at accepting compliments and often couldn’t see any of the talents I possessed without needing someone to beat my good qualities to death with a club, just to make a point.  But I was not humble before the Lord.  Yes, God blessed me with talents and abilities, but I wasn’t using my talents to build up His kingdom, I wasn’t giving Him credit for my abilities, and at best I was trying to walk in tandem with God.  At worst, I thought I could do a better job of running my life than He could.  So every time I achieved something big in my life, I would take the credit and let myself begin to think I was capable of more, on my own, than I ever could while keeping God first in my life.  And each time I reached this point, God gave me a truly humbling experience.  I finally realized this past year that until I let it sink in that I am not the one achieving anything, but it’s God working through me, I’m going to keep getting these painful lessons in humility.  So I’m working really hard at keeping the “chain of command” in proper order, knowing that I only can achieve as much as God wills for me, and being grateful for the talents He blesses me with each day.

It’s funny how I could go so long in life noticing all the people around me who needed work on humility, but the mirror seemed to be glazed with a sort of opaque film preventing me from seeing my own short comings in this area.  Now that my vision has been restored, I see lessons in humility around me all the time.  That’s why I decided to make this a two-part devotional.  I’m learning more than one post could share, and I’ll likely revisit the topic again some day.  Yes, I think humility is that important for Christian living.  When I examine events of my own life, I can see several times when I’ve been given some sharp lessons in humility.  When I think about Hebrews 12:11, I know that this form of discipline, while difficult to deal with at the time, can “produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  So I will take my lessons and hopefully grow to be a better person and Christian because of them.  I share my stories with the hope that others can learn from my mistakes and lessons or that there may be some spiritual application that is found to be beneficial for others in their daily struggles.  Today I will share the first of two examples from my life when I’ve needed to be humbled, for my own good, as painful as it is to admit.

The first example is from my running days.  I never set out to become a runner when I started my weight loss quest in 2010.  I soon found, though, after losing weight and running 3, then 5, then 6, then 10, then 13 miles, that I was a big fan of compliments and bragging rights that went with every finisher’s medal and smaller pants size.  It was addictive!  At first, it legitimately was for my health and setting a good example for my daughter.  When I first started running, I was even grateful to God for what He was allowing my body to accomplish, more than I ever thought possible.  But somewhere between the praise of my peers and obsessively following training schedules, I began to think of myself as the miracle-worker.  After all, I was the one doing all this hard work, putting in the hours and the miles, making sacrifices for something so “good for me.”  Please do not misunderstand, I know a lot of Christians that run and excel at sports and exercise, and I’m not judging their motives at all.  I appreciate the balance they appear to achieve between physical, mental, and spiritual needs.  They know where their heart and soul lie.  I, however, thought way too highly of myself at the peak of my running “success.”  I wasn’t being thankful to God, I was putting more priority on my running than God or my family, and I expected other people to think I was “special” because of what I was accomplishing on the roadway.  None of these traits are acceptable for God’s will to prevail in my life, and honestly, I didn’t want to be that kind of person.  I didn’t make the connection at the time, but since my foot injury in 2015, I have realized that God needed me to become humble in my running and exercise ability.  I didn’t have everything taken away.  I am very grateful that I can still walk, hike, do yoga, and strength train, but I don’t “get to” run anymore.  It’s been hard.  No more races with personal bests or finisher’s medals.  No more compliments about how great I look now or the looks of astonishment when they find out how much I run.  Now I wear bigger sizes and have sore knees, ankles, and feet most all of the time, but I have learned some very important lessons.  I learned that I can do as much as God will allow me to do, and if there is a limit to that, it’s likely for a good reason.  I learned that I often set goals and conquer achievements simply for the praise from other people, and that’s not Biblical.  I learned that no activity, no matter how healthy or good for me, should take priority over God’s time in my life.  And I learned that when I do achieve something, I should express my gratitude and thankfulness to the One who blesses me with such things.  I’ll be sure to remember to tell God thank you for my walk I get to take this afternoon!

Today’s Scriptures  There’s plenty of examples in scriptures of God’s children needing to learn lessons in humility and we have great examples of humble men-Jesus, the most humble, of course, and also Abraham, Moses, Paul, and others, in their own ways.  You can check your Bible’s subject index or do an internet search and get a LOT of good references for humility as taught in scripture.  For our devotional today, I’m going to be focusing on James, chapter 4.  It is often thought that the writer of the epistle James is James, the brother of Jesus.  I also read some commentary that described the book of James as “Proverbs, dressed up in New Testament clothing.”  That description amused me, but I often look to the Proverbs for applicable wisdom, so why not look to James, as well?  Chapter four is a short chapter, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty reading it in its entirety, and it offers up some wisdom on humility. I’m going to pull a few excerpts for you here.

4:6-10  “But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ [Proverbs 3:34]  Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn, and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

4:15-17  “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil.  Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Today’s Prayer  Dear Heavenly Father, I need these lessons so much, so that I may live my life according to Your plan and Your will.  I pray for humility, in all that I do, that I may never boast and brag of my plans or accomplishments, and please forgive me when I forget to apply this to my life.  Lord, I know all good things in my life are blessings from You, that You see fit for my life and my purpose.  I thank You for the accomplishments You bring me and the lessons You help me learn.  May others find valuable wisdom from Your lessons, as well, applying them to their lives, so we may all live according to Your great plan.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today’s Recipe  I’m no chef, that’s for certain!  I like simple, home-cooked meals, and don’t mind one bit going back to my country roots for some old-fashioned deliciousness.  My recipe today is a nod to those humble beginnings for my family.  My mom’s side of the family is about as country as you can get, one way or another.  My great-grandmother lived with her husband, who was both a farmer and country barber.  They lived in their little country house in a little country town with their nine kids, serving up humble, yet wonderful foods, almost all home-grown, for family and friends from miles around.  That little country town still has less than 500 people in it!  As Grandma Harris got older, she did start finding short-cuts for some of her favorite foods, like this “Easy Fruit Cobbler,” that she became known for.  Grandma canned her own fruits, so she could easily pull down some preserved apples, peaches, or cherries for this dish.  You can use fresh, canned, or frozen, but the cooking times will vary depending on how your fruit is prepared.  My peach version here is a favorite of my husband’s!

Grandma’s Easy Fruit Cobbler

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup self-rising flour (see note)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • Fruit of choice (she never measured, she just used what she had; I like 4-6 cups in mine)

Turn oven to 375 degrees.  Place butter in 9×13 baking dish.  Place dish in oven to melt butter.  Mix flour, sugar, and milk in bowl.  Pour over melted butter.  Dump fruit on top of this mixture-do not stir.  Her recipe says “bake it ’til it’s done.”  I love that!  I often use frozen fruit, especially in winter, so if using frozen fruit bake 50-60 minutes.  If using fresh fruit, bake 40-45 minutes.  If using canned fruit, bake 30-40 minutes, as it’s usually already soft.  It’s done when center is no longer doughy and the edges are golden brown.  The fruit will be very bubbly.  This “cobbler” pairs delightfully well with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped sweetened cream.

Note-If you do not have self-rising flour, you can make your own by using 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.