There is a story of a man imprisoned for twenty years for a crime he denied committing. He had gone before the parole board several times over those years and was told when he admitted his guilt he would be considered for release. However he couldn’t and wouldn’t admit to doing something he didn’t do so had resorted to silence and simply glaring at the board members each hearing. At his last hearing he listened to the chairperson of the parole board boast of his exemplary behavior in prison and his positive influence on the other inmates giving the impression perhaps this time he would be paroled. But alas, he was rejected!
His new lawyer was frustrated knowing he had done all the “right stuff” but still no release so decided to fight the decision of the parole board and get another hearing scheduled as soon as possible to get an explanation. As they waited for the new hearing, the lawyer and prisoner visited several times. This man looked like he had a chip on his shoulder all the time and maintained a hateful “glare” meant to intimidate. While prepping him to meet once again with the parole board, his lawyer challenged him to lose the glare. She argued it wasn’t becoming of a man who wanted his freedom to stare angrily at the people possessing the power to grant it nor was it near as intimidating as he thought.
When the day of the hearing arrived the man showed up with the same glare, looking angry, defensive and yes, just a bit intimidating! He listened tensely as the chairperson of the parole board said there was no new evidence to change the original verdict, thus by law he was still guilty. And though he was a model prisoner they were still unsure what would happen on the outside. Not a good start to the hearing!
When it came time for him to speak, he took the opportunity and began to loudly accuse the parole board of being unfair in not granting his release simply because he wouldn’t admit to the crime, and going on to defend his negative attitude by explaining the difficulties of being wrongly imprisoned. You can imagine the despair of his lawyer as this man did “everything” she advised him “not” to do. She was able to nudge and make eye contact with him in the middle of his tirade which caused him to suddenly stop and actually “look” at the people on the parole board. Immediately his countenance changed and he began to share with them his struggle with hatred and anger, followed by asking the board members to forgive him for treating them as the targets of his resentment and hatred. He realized he had directed his anger towards them instead of the person who falsely accused him and because he felt helpless to do anything about his plight he allowed his anger to fester, taking it out on whoever he could blame for his predicament. He also now knew his vain attempts at punishing the parole board only hurt himself by elevating his own anger, resentment, and hatred.
When he was finished speaking it only took a few moments for the parole board to discuss his case and grant him release. By taking responsibility for his attitude and behavior during incarceration he was FREE! This man learned that though he had been wronged by others there was no benefit in hurting others in return, living in denial, or putting up a protective shield. His lawyer said there was only one reasonable explanation for his release; the change in his attitude! He had finally shown “humility” by losing the glare, apologizing for his misdirected hatred, and humbling himself in their presence. His humility brought freedom inwardly and out!
After hearing this story I thought of how lacking in humility I am at times, and how we need to grab hold of such a precious character trait as being humble! I was driven to the Word of God and what He has to say about humility discovering it will do amazing things for us. Humility is a very simple biblical truth – It is a good thing! It brings freedom! It opens the door for honor! It enables us to look in the mirror and see “our” faults! It builds confidence in God, not in us. It causes us to stop trying to prove and defend ourselves. It helps us see ourselves accurately! It attracts God’s grace! Humility carries with it an unassuming nature not a spirit of entitlement. There is modesty and meekness surrounding a humble person where arrogance is felt a long way off. We are to seek humility, put on humility, be clothed with humility, correct people with humility, show our humility, and be alert to false humility.
Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.” Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;” 2 Timothy 2:25 “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,” Titus 3:2 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”
Without humility we will not take responsibility for our own shortcomings and mistakes. Let’s face it – we all have issues! But when we ignore our own and are hurt by the mistakes of others we can get in a rut of thinking everyone “has it out” for us. We make ourselves victims, become guarded, closely watching and waiting for others to “mess up” so we can say, “See, I was right. You DID have it out for me.”
People hurt and wound others because they are hurt and wounded. Hurt people continue to feel hurt by others by allowing feelings of anger, pain, betrayal, and resentment take up residence in them. Most often, like the man in the story, people take no responsibility for their situation, believing they are completely innocent, never hurtful, never making mistakes. Of course they would never “say” this is how they feel but their words and behavior show they think it is everyone else’s fault. The result is we look for scapegoats to carry our hurt, blaming others and then separate ourselves from those people who have the power to free us by telling us the truth and leading us into freedom. This man was not only physically imprisoned but he had built a prison of pride, arrogance and hatred around himself, thinking he saw “clearly” and everyone else was “blind” to the truth which only kept him further bound. Without humility we build walls and cannot even begin to hear reason!
The bottom line is most people want honor and respect just as this man did as he sat all those years in prison waiting for someone to “hear” and “believe” in him. The Bible tells us that before honor and respect, humility must enter our lives and rule our conduct! Look how closely humility and honor are related in Proverbs. Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.” Proverbs 18:12 “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” Proverbs 22:4 “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.”
The most important truth here is humility before God brings honor before God! His pleasure is what we seek in this life! God looks for humble hearts and when we are “right” in God’s eyes, everything is right in the world! It is an extra blessing when honor comes from men, as was the case in this story. But knowing humility and fear of God brings honor is simply an amazing truth!
The Word also gives a stern warning about “not” walking in humility. God will resist us! 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.” Is this not a severe enough warning? The thought of God opposing us is not a pleasant thing! This verse speaks specifically of younger people but I’m sure most of you reading this are younger than someone else so it speaks to all of us! Would you like to be a person who refuses to submit yourself to an elder because you are “right” and they are “wrong”? That is not a risk I am willing to take. I am already an “older” woman yet wisdom says I should submit to my elders, even if I am not always in agreement with them. By doing so, I have discovered an unimaginable grace! Let’s not fool ourselves by believing we can live as we like, argue with our elders, share our opinions by attacking theirs, and still experience the grace of God. The Word tells us otherwise! At the same time, this verse does not insinuate elders are “right” one hundred per cent of the time since we know we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But as we clothe ourselves with humility we will do as He says, and experience His grace not His opposition!
So…If today you find yourself walking with a chip on your shoulder or putting on the glare or hurting and manipulating people because you perceive they have hurt or betrayed you – stop and consider the cost! Do you want God’s grace or His opposition? Look in the mirror and remember that just as others are not perfect, you are not perfect. Just as you have been hurt you have hurt others. If you say you have “NEVER” done things like others have done to you, you are not clothed with humility! If you are controlling your life so as not to be hurt anymore, you are not clothed with humility! If you do not submit yourself to others, you are not clothed with humility! If you attack and accuse others of hurting you, you are not clothed with humility!
And there is good news! We can change today! We can seek and show humility today! We can put on and stay clothed in humility today! We can seek God anew today! We can be humble and let the grace of God flow freely through our lives today! Why? Because as my husband has been known to say, “It’s a New Day!” People of God! “It’s a New Day! Let’s Get Humble!”
Bonus: Go to www.mmmarxhausen.mypodcast.com and listen to some fantastic new day messages!