The Gift of Humility

"Be completely humble and gentle..." Eph 4:2 "love one another, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

Yesterday, we introduced the series with the gift of companionship. Admittedly, today's gift is even more challenging. But as with all good gifts, there is usually a choice made by the giver to sacrifice in order to be a blessing to the recipient, whether it be money or time or something less tangible.

In this gift, the sacrifice is pride. You know what I mean. It's the gift of not always having to be right. It's the gift of admitting that we are wrong at times. It's the gift of conceding that there are some areas in my life that need the healing touch of God.

I have found that if I ever want to "win" my husband, this gift is crucial. In fact, it seems almost counterintuitive. But then again, much of what Jesus tells us to do is that way (He did say the first shall be last and the last, first. Go figure! See Matt. 20:16) If I desire him to understand and see what I am saying, I am far less likely to get him to hear, much less really listen, if I come with a prideful attitude. I need to be willing to put myself last and put him first.

Now, I am not saying to put on a fake pretense of being humble. Humility is a heart posture. But I am learning that before I even open my mouth to address an area of conflict or change, then I need to check my heart first. Usually, God wants to deal with me, just as much as I think I need to have a few words with my husband!

If I truly want to be humble, I need to start with myself. Who am I to correct another anyway? Who am I to judge? Only when I am willing to turn the tables and let God subject me to the same scrutiny, I will not be in the right place to do that for my husband. My heart and motive would not be in the right place. And when that is out of alignment, then it is highly likely that my words will follow suit.

God's Word tells us to humble ourselves before the Lord and He will lift us up (1 Peter 5:6). As I humble myself before Him, He then enables me to approach my husband with grace and humility, gentleness and compassion.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I have this one mastered. I don't like to admit I am wrong. It's hard to say, "I've been wrong and you are right." It grates on our soul to have to utter words like that.

But when I am humble (or the times that the Lord has convicted me so I can see my own sin and wrongdoing in the situation) and approach my husband in this manner, he is far more likely to listen to what I have to say, even if I do have to address how his actions may have bothered me or hurt me. Just adopting this posture of humility has helped him to lower his defenses enough so that he will hear me out.

I do want to clarify, however, that being humble is not the same as being a doormat. Passively letting our spouses abuse us or hurt us not the same thing as being humble. That kind of response may have a root in some kind of lie or false belief. I like what Gary Thomas says in his book, Sacred Influence: "If you can stand strong and secure in your identity and in your relationship with Christ, courageously making it clear how you will and will not be treated, you will be amazed to see how the respect you show for yourself rubs off on your husband."

How we respond in times of crisis and disagreement may do more to heal and help than we realize. At the very least, we can live in peace with ourselves, knowing that we have chosen the high road, the narrow path, the way that would honor our Lord most. Even if nothing changes, we can know the Lord will stand up for us. We do not need to do it ourselves.

Is there an area in your marriage in which you feel the need to "prove" yourself? Is there an area in your life that you know is causing pain and strife in your relationship, but you are unwilling to face it or deal with it? I encourage you to bring those areas first and foremost to our Savior, the perfect example of humility, and ask Him to help you to gain His perspective. And when the time is right, let Him help you to express that humility to your husband, not to get your way or as a manipulative device, but as a way to show him respect and honor. In faith, actions like these can help a marriage go farther than you expect.

PS One last thing: This gift is true for children too. As moms, it is easy to pull rank on them, just because they are younger, smaller or dependent on you. (Not that I have any experience in that! {wink})