I am learning humility. I find it's easy to preach, but it's a hard thing to actually live. When it comes down to it, we are all quite selfish beings. It is hard to admit when we are at fault...and often instead of an apology, we make an excuse or some justification for our behavior. When we know that we had no fault whatsoever in the situation, it can be even harder to mend relationships. After all, why should we fix it when we did nothing wrong in the first place?
The biblical definition of humility is so different from our own human definition...and it's a lot harder to comply with in my estimation. In Matthew it says (and this is my paraphrase), "If someone was mean or rude to you, or did you wrong or offended you in some way, then go to that person. Leave church, leave your own private devotional time, leave work or whatever else is important to you, and fix things with that person FIRST." Every time I read that passage, it hits me in the gut. "What???? Why should I have to fix something that I didn't do? I'd rather just leave things alone. I won't even be upset or hold a grudge against the person that offended me. But, confront the problem? That's the last thing I want to do!" That's my reaction...but I am so glad that the Holy Spirit doesn't let me rest at that. It's not easy, and it's not always fun, but the Lord has been teaching me to "leave my offering at the altar" and go talk with the people that are unhappy with something I've done or said. Sometimes, I know I did nothing wrong. Sometimes it's all about a misunderstanding. Sometimes talking with the person doesn't even fix it. All I know is, I need to leave my pride at the door. It doesn't matter if I was right all along. I need to obey the Spirit within me. I need to obey the Word, even when I want to kick and scream and say, "It wasn't my fault!" I can't always make things right, but at least I can know that I tried.
The ultimate example of humility? Jesus Christ. His example blows me away every time I think about it. In the Scriptures that talk about the life of Jesus and the crucifixion, we see so many examples of people that were so angry with Him...so many that were so offended because He challenged their religion and their traditions. How did he respond? He healed them. He cried for them. He prayed for them. He taught them. He never defended himself, not even when they spit on Him and mocked Him. He, who had every reason to shout from the cross, "But I'm right!!!! I never did anything wrong!!!" remained silent, living out the Truth He knew, his heart breaking for those who couldn't see or understand. Even in his last moments on the cross, His only thought was for them, for us. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He who had every right to be offended, continued to love beyond our understanding. And he left the ultimate sacrifice at the altar to "fix" everything. For you. For me.
I want to learn from the Lord's example. I'm sure I will never know what it's like to make such a complete, humble sacrifice for people who don't even like me, but I want to begin to experience it in the small things, in my everyday life. I want to love the people who have hurt me, and I want to speak words of life to them. I don't want my pride to get in the way of ministering to broken and wounded hearts. My husband has used a definition of a clear conscience for years that I love, and I'll end this post with that. "A clear conscience allows me to look directly into the eyes of everyone around me knowing that no one can say to me, "You hurt me and never tried to fix the damage." God, let it be so in me.