The Surprising Effect of Humility

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted" - Luk 18:14 ESV.

Many people struggle to be liked by other people around them. They seem to find difficulty with everyone including their family members or their co-workers. Even their friends may not always want their company for some reason and they don't know why. Well, what about humility? Humility is something that seems to work very well with other people. Humility has a way of disarming others, or making them feel that you are a sincere person who is authentic with your words and actions. If humility is such strong character trait in winning people over, why is it that not everyone wants to develop such trait?

Yesterday, I chanced upon a short video clip of a young person who is telling viewers about how she was once a very kind person. But people took advantage of her kindness and hurt her. And so she decided, she said, to be kind only to those who are kind to her and also be intentionally nasty to those who are nasty. I suspect she won't have many new friends soon. 

The problem with an attitude like this is that it is a product of a current trend where rudeness and a combative spirit is glorified. That spirit that says "I won't take any crap from anyone." will soon bleed to the rest of one's attitude so that even if one is in the wrong, the person readily by default takes the defensive stance, ready to fight instead of apologize. With a attitude like that, humility is out of the question and arrogance is knocking at the door.

In contrast, when following Hollywood personalities in conversations and interviews, whenever the question is asked who their favorite or most-like person among their peers, one name keeps on popping up. In this not-so-humble crowd, everyone seem to gravitate toward this person who is known, among other things like kindness and simplicity of life, as the most humble person they know. Keanu Reeves consistently takes home the award for being the most-liked person among actors and all of them agree that he is such a humble person. So yes, humility even sells to those who lack the virtue.

There is no dispute about pride being the scourge of humanity. Nations are plunged into wars because of pride. Relationships are broken because of it. Eternity will be hellfire for many for lack of humility. Listen to this story for example:

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luk 18:10-14 ESV).

What a tragedy for a person who, because of pride, missed on the best opportunity of his life. And how many times have we been told that if only we have admitted our errors immediately, we would have gone free from any obligations or repercussions? I have been told that thing at one time when I hit someone's car. The owner of the other car told me he would have allowed me to go scot-free if I have been humble and apologetic enough immediately. Instead I ended up paying. I hope  I learned from that. I wouldn't know for sure because it hasn't happened since but the word of God for us today is a firm reminder about the virtue of humility. It doesn't take much to believe this because I'm sure there are only very few people, if at all, who would prefer friends who are contentious, arrogant and proud. Only people of the same kind may thrive in that environment, although as C.S. Lewis says, "Pride doesn't tolerate competition." and proud people becoming really good friends of each other may even be a long shot.

Jesus gave us a perfect example of ideal humanity. Although He was known for many things in His time here on earth, not the least of which is gentleness, wisdom and power, He is repeatedly described as meek as a lamb. His display of humility is humility at its best. We all can be sure of this one thing: humility is pleasantly welcome among people and in heaven likewise. If it can bring you to heaven, humility can certainly bring you friends. Try it.

(Photo credit: MelaniPykeArt)