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Seeking Humility before being Humbled: Lessons from King Nebuchadnezzar
Approximately ten years ago, I was asked a very interesting question. The person asked: “Are you humble?” I wasn’t sure, and I’m still not sure, if the person was being sincere or attempting to “prove” that I wasn’t humble with his question. Humility has been defined as the act of demonstrating modesty; therefore, if I said “Yes, I’m humble,” he would have said “No, you aren’t based on your answer.” If I answered “No, I am not humble,” he would have said: “I’ve proven my point!” My answer to his question was: “I’m trying to be.” For those of us who are seeking to be proactive and assertive in our efforts to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ, to serve as leaders in our homes and communities and to create innovative ways to minister to people in need, the act or process of displaying humility can be a real challenge. However, as followers of Jesus Christ, we must embrace the fact that the Christian message calls us to be humble and to serve with humility. Peter, a disciple of Jesus Christ, said: “Humble yourselves, then under God’s mighty hand, so that He will lift you up in His own good time (1 Peter 5:6).” In Colossians 3:12, the Apostle Paul stated: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Humility is a quality that we must continue to strive to embrace as we are called to love God and our neighbors as ourselves (see Mark 12:30-31).
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11).” Jesus’ words suggest that it is possible to be humbled by God if we absolutely refuse to seek and embrace humility. In the Old Testament, we are fortunate to read about the life of a powerful king named Nebuchadnezzar who initially refused to display humility. He bragged about his power (Daniel 4:30), and it was taken away from him (4:31). When Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself and acknowledged God’s presence in his life, his power was restored (4:36-37). Also, I’ve seen many instances in which arrogant people were humble by other people. They believed that they were the most powerful person, as indicated by their physical strength, clothing, money or influence, at the time. The act of finding out that their personal, political, economic or social influence was extremely limited, was very humbling experience for them.
My understanding of the Gospel suggests that we should be humble before we are humbled. Humility is a value embraced by Jesus Christ. It is an attribute which truly bring us closer to God.