I can’t say that I always enjoy taking my dog outside in the cold or in the rain. Okay, I almost never enjoy it, especially when it is raining. But when the night sky is clear, and the stars are bright, as my dog is doing his business out in the yard, I will look up at the sky, hoping to see shooting stars. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few. But I will admit that star-gazing can leave me feeling small, especially knowing how vast the solar system is, let alone the Milky Way, or that the stars I’m seeing are light years away. We humans don’t like feeling small. But I think we should. Here’s why.
The message of Ezekiel chapter 28 is that pride can so easily work its way into our hearts and minds. When we are prideful, we can become a god in our own eyes. As a result, when we are prideful, we don’t see how much we need God. We can wander away from God and get into a place like that which God described of the King of Tyre, a heart of pride. This pride also manifested in the people of Israel, ruining their relationship with God.
What God desires for us, what is best for us, is to be in close relationship with him. That’s why he says over and over and over in Ezekiel, “Then you will know that I am God.” In their pride, God’s people no longer knew that. The king of Tyre convinced himself that he was god. Is there anything we can do about this human tendency?
The antidote to pride in the heart, then is to nurture a humble heart. Yes, we can actually grow in our humility. We can make choices to help us become more humble. We can practice it. How?
First and foremost, spend time growing your relationship with God. A humble heart is one that says, “I need you Lord; I cannot do this life without you.” A humble heart is actively aware of one’s own shortcomings, and says, “Lord, help!” It is why Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” That’s a prayer of humility. That’s a prayer that is saying, “Lord, if temptation and evil come my way, I don’t believe I can handle them on my own, so would you please help me?” It is a prayer that is asking God to be involved in our lives, and thus it is a prayer that seeks a deeper relationship with God.
Second, invite people in your life to examine your level of humility. Imagine how humbling it would be to hear people give you an honest evaluation, explaining that you are prideful. We need people in our lives to speak the truth in love to us, and to do so on a regular basis. Who is that person in your life?
Third, place yourselves in situations in which you are out of your comfort zone. It could be serving God in a new way, or in a way that you don’t think you are gifted for or good at. It could be reaching out to people that you find difficult. It could be giving of your time more often, and in ways that are distasteful to you. Yes, I am suggesting that you intentionally serve or give of yourself in a way that you might not enjoy or that might be hard or that might require you to learn to do something you don’t know how to do.
This reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25. In this story, Jesus calls us to reach out to the homeless, the hungry, the sick, the poor, the prisoner. Sometimes people make bad choices. Some live a lifestyle we might disagree with. Some just got a raw deal in life. We Christians should nurture such humble hearts that we are known by how loving we are to what Jesus calls the least of these.
Finally, read the book Humilitas by John Dickson. It is a short and very readable book about how important humility is, and with lots more ideas about how to cultivate humility in our lives.
In all of these suggestions, what we see is that we can work at being humble. We can grow humility in our lives. We can get smaller, in a good way.