Two brothers were arguing over who should get the larger of two pieces of pie. Mom told them that Jesus would want the other to have the larger piece. One brother then said to the other, “You be Jesus!” While I find that to be humorous, I am saddened that it is quite the norm for humans—both Christian and non-Christian.
We read in James 4 that quarrels and fights occur between us when we want what we don’t have, and believe we are entitled to it. While there may be times when we should stand up for our interests, I dare say that is most often not the case in healthy relationships.
Selfishness and self-centeredness lie at the root of most, if not all, conflict in families, workplaces and churches. If left unaddressed, these can lead to dismay and strife, if not the ultimate end of the relationship.
I’m happy to tell you there is a remedy, and while it is quite simple it is not necessarily easy. The remedy of which I speak is the virtue of humility. As born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we know we are to live lives of humility, but sometimes talking about it is easier than actually living it.
Many people have an incorrect view of humility. For example, humility does not mean you have to be a doormat and let people walk over you however and whenever they wish. Jesus did not do that and He, of course, is our perfect example.
Humility does not mean you should regard yourself as worthless and incapable of contributing anything of value to the world. I appreciate how C.S. Lewis put it when he said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less.” Do the former and you will likely engage in a brutal battle within your inner mind. Do the latter and you can expect much more peace and joy, with less strife and grief.
Humility is having an accurate assessment of who you are in relation to God and others. It’s holding a realistic and balanced view of your own importance.
Bible characters who demonstrated humility include Peter after the cross, Paul after the road to Damascus, Moses, Joseph, and just about every person you tend to admire in Scripture.
In case you have never done a study of humility in the Bible, here are some texts to help you get started: Prov. 22:4; James 4:6-10; Rom. 12: 1-4; 1 Peter 5: 5-11; Eph. 4: 1-3; Phil 2: 1-4. There are plenty more, but those texts should help to convince you that God does indeed “oppose the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
God is abundantly clear in His Word that He values humility in His children and hates pride and self-centeredness, and the two simply cannot co-exist. In terms of relationships, when both are striving to assert their rights and have their way, conflict is virtually guaranteed. In healthy relationships, when one or both practice humility and put the other’s interests above their own, conflict is virtually non-existent.
I do not recommend anyone practice humility because they feel they must. Yes, it is strongly encouraged by our Heavenly Father, but please don’t look at humility as a “have to” but more as a “get to.” When you realize all that Christ did for you by humbling Himself and taking the form of a servant (see Phil. 2:5), when you agree with Paul who determined to give up his own rights in subservience to Christ and others (see Gal. 2:20), you realize it is absolutely the best way to live.
When you live a life of true humility, it is impossible for people to push your buttons or get you upset because of something they did or did not do. Humility helps you to practice Rom. 12:18 and expand your ability to get along or live at peace with others. It also helps you to reflect the character of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ more regularly and accurately. That alone sounds to me like a strong motivator to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).