Humility Through Character-Building Experiences

The noted preacher and author Chuck Swindoll tells of a man who won a plaque for being the most humble man on earth. The man took the plaque home and placed it on the mantle in his living room. As soon as he did that they came and took the plaque from him.

Would you describe yourself as a humble person? More importantly, would others describe you as a humble person? I think it’s obvious that our society doesn’t rate humility very high. We’re too busy envying the aloof rich and worshiping self-absorbed celebrities. That’s why we need to be reminded every now and then that God places immeasurable value on humility.

The Bible is replete with passages that prove this. Here are just a few (all from the N.K.J.V.):

Psalm 10:17: Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.

Psalm 138:6: Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.

Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:19: Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Isaiah 57:15: For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I will dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Romans 12:3: For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…

Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering…

James 4:6: But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Of course, these verses stand alongside the fact that humility was one of the major themes of Christ’s ministry. For your homework, read: Matthew 5:3-5; 11:29; 18:1-4; 20:25-28; Luke 1:52; 18:9-14; 22:24-27; and John 13:12-17. Trust me, you won’t have any trouble picking up on the recurrent teaching in those passages. But how could we expect anything less from a Creator God who evidenced His humility by voluntarily leaving heaven, taking lowly human flesh upon Himself, living among the mess of the fallen human race, and dying a substitutionary death for the sins of that race?

I’ve known Julie (Mckinney) Phillips for years. For a while she was the person who cleaned my teeth twice a year at our local dentist’s office. During one of those visits she said something that I’ve never forgotten. As we were talking about our lives and the various troubles we had endured, she said, “Yes, I think I’ve had about enough character-building experiences!” I couldn’t help but laugh because I understood exactly what she meant and felt the same way about myself. I don’t see Julie much anymore, but even now there are times when I’m praying about some circumstance and say, “Lord, I really don’t want another character-building experience right now.”

Still, despite these prayers, God keeps sending such experiences my way. Why? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is to keep me humble. Apparently He knows that deep down inside me there is a streak that is prone to pride and arrogance and He doesn’t want that streak to get too wide. So, lest I get “too big for my britches,” I never go too long without having to endure some humbling ordeal, or to use Julie’s term “character-building experience.” Understanding how God uses such experiences helps me cope with them. It doesn’t make them easier, mind you, but it does allow me to view them through His perspective and see the good He can bring out of them. And that good is very real, even if I don’t always enjoy or appreciate what it took for me to acquire it.

This entry was posted in Adversity, Disappointment, Encouragement, Humility, Perseverance, Personal, Pride, Trials, Trusting In God and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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