Monday, March 07, 2011

Teaching Humility

This morning's devotion was taken from I Peter 5:5, which says:
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Humility is a difficult concept to explain to children, who are certainly not inclined to be humble at all, ever. It is most definitely a learned thing, but I believe that without the Holy Spirit, it is nearly impossible to obtain. There are whole cultures that are built on the concept of humility, i.e. one never promotes himself or speaks well of himself or his possessions. Nevertheless, this humility is as empty as any virtue devoid of the love of Christ (I Corinthians 13), and pride seeps out in other places and in other ways. Pride is rooted in the heart of man, so no act of humility can be sincere unless there is true submission to the One who requires it by His example. So how do I teach my children to be humble?

In our household we settle conflicts with a couple of questions, the first to the older: "Are you serving your sister?" and the second to the younger, "Are you respecting / honoring your brother?" I sometimes have them repeat after me, "The older serves the younger, the younger respects the older." Invariably, when conflict arises and I pose these simple questions, both of them stop and hang their heads and think. Usually the answer for both of them is, "no." I then walk away and listen for a bit, and consistently I hear the chatter of happy cooperation between the two of them, as they begin to look for a way to please the other. Almost always, both end up satisfied with the outcome, and if not, they are at least aware that they have made a choice based on what is right rather than on their own selfish desires.

Great. I have established a pattern of behavior in my children by which they can escape discipline by working out their differences. But what about the heart? Today we talked about Jesus and his example of humility. Even though he was God incarnate, he served, washed his disciples' feet, allowed himself to be murdered for crimes he did not commit. If the very Son of God made no place in his life for pride, then should we?
Philippians 2:5-9
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Thankfully, both of my children walk with the Lord have the Holy Spirit to guide them. It is my prayer that this lesson sinks deeply into their hearts, and that they live their lives as humble servants of God and their neighbors.

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