Habit: Character Formation
Today’s reading is drawn from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Galatians 5:13.
After the dedication of the temple, God appears to Solomon at night and tells him that if the people “will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
We know we need to humble ourselves before God. But what does that mean, and what does it require? Let’s look at some of the ways we can develop humility:
Fight pride and self-doubt — Humility allows us to see ourselves in proper relation to God and neighbor, leading us to an accurate self-assessment. We fail to humble ourselves when we develop an inaccurate view of ourselves because of either pride or self-doubt — both enemies of humility that we must battle. As Greg Willson explains:
“Pride and self-doubt are really two sides of the same coin. One believes that we know better than God does, the other believes that he isn’t good or powerful enough to change us. Neither makes much of God, effectively bringing him down below us. The prideful and the self-doubters both believe they’re better than God, they just show it in different ways.”*
Use truth as the primary tool — The primary means we humble ourselves is by learning what God has to say about us. When you search the Scriptures, make note of all the things — both positive and negative — God has to say about mankind. Only by learning God’s truth can we acquire the self-knowledge necessary to develop humility.
Surround yourself with people who will exhort and rebuke you — We need people in our lives who will provide an honest assessment —praising us for our virtues and chastising us for our failings.
Serve others — Humility is not just about agreeing to an idea of who we are, but rather it is self-knowledge gained through experience. The surest way to gain such experiential knowledge is by serving others (see Galatians 5:13). Through service, we learn that our God-given talents and abilities make us different, but not better, than our neighbor.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: Humility is a virtue developed by constantly seeking to see ourselves as God sees us.
* Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013).