HUMILITY IS NOT GROVELING
by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Kingston, Ontario January 2008
God does not want sons and daughters who grovel before him. Loving parents do not appreciate the humility of subservient children. Members of the royal family are expected to behave with dignity. It is only earthly potentates who demand subjects who will approach them
with their faces in the dust.
Why then does the New Testament have such strong references to humility? The brother of the Lord wrote "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you" (James 4:6, 10). And the leader among the apostles wrote, "All of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 1:5-6).
In a group of friends pride is seen in a "know it all" self-sufficient attitude. The proud person is self-centered because he does not give importance to the feelings and opinions of others. The humble person is loved because she listens to those who are often ignored. She cares for their well-being. "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but regard others as better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). But true humility is not expressed by subservient bowing and scraping.
Similarly the humble person looks to God for his wisdom. He knows he cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control (Galatians 5:22) by his own efforts. Just as the branch produces grapes by being open to the sap from the vine, so humility does its work by constant dependence on what only God can give.
In his farewell to the Ephesian elders Paul said they had seen him "serving the Lord with all humility" (Acts 20:19). They did not see him groveling before the Almighty. What they saw was his total dependence on God for the task he was engaged in. This is why he could recommend the adoption of humility and its allied graces. "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12).