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FIRST-PERSON: On humility

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[2]NASHVILLE (BP) – Nobody really knows how to be humble.

A compliment may leave us unsure how to respond except to say, “Thank you.”

A gift may stir us to stumble for the right words of appreciation for the giver’s thoughtfulness.

Someone’s advice or exhortation, if well-received, may prompt us to affirm its helpfulness. Or, if unwelcome, it challenges us to a graciousness that transcends contentiousness.

Spur-of-the moment humility can seem so insufficient compared to the feelings in our hearts that can’t be captured in mere words.

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At times, humility entails courage. In fact, it can be one of the most courageous things someone can do.

It may be the humility to say, “I was wrong,” and ask for a person’s forgiveness.

And if, in humble prayer, you believe your words or actions were justified, it may entail the courage to say, “I know I said something that came across as harsh” or “I did something that seemed uncaring.” And then express regret. Or ask forgiveness for what your loved one, friend, neighbor or coworker experienced at the time.

Humility goes deeper than good human relations. It is among the distinguishing marks of a follower of Christ.

Perhaps the most poignant instruction in Scripture is in the apostle Peter’s first letter (1 Peter 5:5-7): “All of you, clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’ [a phrase from Proverbs 3:34]. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Reflect on some of the phrases in the passage:

Need any more proof of God’s seriousness about humility? Ponder the apostle Paul’s words in one of his letters (Philippians 2:5-11):

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus … [who] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. … [He] humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There are plenty of significant words and phrases in what Paul wrote about Jesus – certainly “humbled himself” is as impactful as any.