Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:6
I once had a well-meaning Sunday School teacher tell me: “It is best if you humble yourself. Otherwise God is going to have to do it for you.” The implication I walked away with was the best way to avoid being humbled by circumstances was to humble myself. But how was I supposed to do that? How do we humble ourselves?
The truth is, humility is an elusive characteristic when we seek it on our own. The humility we are able to self-manufacture often becomes a crafty disguise over how proud we are at being so humble. The theological word for this is self-righteousness. That is not the desired end.
Humility often comes to us in two ways. The first way was the way that my Sunday School teacher was eluding to: circumstances. Difficult circumstances in life can be the antidote to pride and arrogance. But humility by circumstances is complicated. Often we experience it as shame instead of conviction. We are left feeling decimated rather than convicted. Again, this is not the desired end.
True Biblical humility comes through the awareness of God. In this verse, Peter speaks of humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. When we place ourselves and our lives in the context of the Presence of God, we are given perspective. When we discover the love and grace that God offers to us, we are lifted rather than decimated. When we find the hand of God protecting us in the midst of the storms of life, we are defined by our connection to God. There is no room for pride. We are humbled.
Jesus, help us to discover true humility. We confess the ways that we have experienced shame and self-righteousness as false paths. We ask you to press close to us so that we might know your great love, mercy, and grace. In that awareness, help us to discover the blessing of humility. In Jesus’ name, Amen.