I recently read an article about a young woman who broke the world record for hurdling. Pictures in the article show her crying and kneeling afterward, moved by her accomplishment. But what I love the most is that in the following interviews, she gave all the glory to God, acknowledging that her achievement was based on her trust in Him. She set a fitting example, not only for her diligence, but in her honor to the One who graced and enabled her.
Unfortunately, not everyone gives honor to whom honor is due. Like the Olympic hurdler, many have persevered and became famous by the world’s standards. But though being gifted and famous isn’t wrong, we sadly hear those same people boast about their accomplishments, giving no credit to the One who gifted them in the first place. Unfortunately, this is pride, which has dangerous consequences.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
When we’re daily surrounded by this attitude, it’s easy to subtly succumb to a “haughty spirit” in our daily lives. It can be as simple as believing we can take care of ourselves without assistance, or as big as pursuing fame, power, and the praise of man. Regardless of the size, if this pride continues without repentance, God eventually will lift His hand of favor and grace off us. He no longer can protect, honor, or lead us to a successful end. On the other hand, we can humble ourselves and allow God to honor—or raise us up—at the right time and the right place. But even then He should receive the glory.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6, NIV).
We often think of humility as self-debasing, undermining who we are and what we can do. Though humility does mean to bring ourselves low under someone or something else, humility is not ignoring or belittling who we are. It’s recognizing Who made us (Genesis 1).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3, NKJV).
We were made. We have a Creator. Not only would we not exist without our Creator, but we also wouldn’t have any of the talents or personality traits that we enjoy and implement. Yet we are consistently tempted to act as if we are self-made and self-sufficient, and can live apart from Him. The devil desires that we fall into this trap of pride by choosing to forget the reason why we breathe, the reason why we can do the things we do. When we fall into this trap, our dreams shrivel, our gifts are hindered, and our relationships suffer. This is exactly the devil’s goal. He doesn’t want us to fulfill the call of God on our lives, and does not want the gifts that God has given us to advance the Kingdom of God and bring glory to Him.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10, ESV).
Even Jesus humbled Himself under the Father—the Creator. He recognized that He couldn’t do anything apart from the One He submitted to. Jesus was so advanced in His character that He humbled Himself to the point of death. We may not have to submit ourselves to dying for our faith, but we do have to choose to die to our physical desires daily (1 Corinthians 9:27). In this, Jesus is our perfect example.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19, NKJV).
Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! (Philippians 2:5-8, AMPC).
Notice in the Bible that Jesus never denied His power through the Holy Spirit, His God-given calling, or His position as the Son of God. Though He gave up His heavenly privileges to become human, He didn’t become insecure and belittle Himself, even when those around Him denied who He was. What He did retain was a humble mindset and attitude, regardless of what position He held—as God or servant. He just consistently submitted Himself to the Father, and gave God all the glory to the One Who called and empowered Him.
Just the same, we shouldn’t undermine who we are. Undermining who we are is undermining Who created us. It’s saying He made a mistake by choosing the gifts, talents, and personalities that He’s given us. Even playing comparisons with other people insults Him. We should instead be thankful to God for creating us the way He did, and seek to strengthen what He has given us. This honors our Maker and shows good stewardship of what He has given (Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Peter 4:10). And like Jesus, we need to have a humble mindset that serves the Kingdom of God, not ourselves, while giving God all the glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Romans 12:3-4, ESV).
Seeing ourselves as valuable is a wonderful trait. Pursuing our dreams despite the odds is something we all should do. We were, after all, made miraculously (Psalm 139:14). However, we should be careful not to take the credit for our accomplishments and forget Who created us in the first place. When we do, He will, like Jesus, give us favor and honor in His perfect way and in His perfect time!