If you’re the type who likes to spend hours a day admiring yourself, please stop reading this. If you can’t make it more than a few hours without telling others, ever so subtly, how awesome you are, stop reading. This post isn’t for arrogant self-promoters. And it isn’t for the false humble. You know, the type who like to ramble on and on about their supposed short comings but are really only looking for cheap compliments.
This is for the humble. And the message is short and simple.
Be careful that you do not become too humble.
I know, it sounds weird. Humility is good. Jesus tells us to be humble. He rewards the humble. He humbled himself, even to the point of death. So what’s so bad about humility?
Until we start forgetting about God’s power.
Centuries ago, the people of Israel were living as slaves. God had a plan to deliver them. And, as usual, his plan included a flawed human being playing the role of rescuer. This time, that human being’s name was Moses. Not Rambo. Not the dad from the Taken movies. Moses.
When God called Moses out for this job, Moses was quick to give all of the reasons why God was wrong to pick him.
“I’m a nobody” (Exodus 3:11).
“I don’t know what to say” (Exodus 3:13).
“They won’t listen to me” (Exodus 4:1).
“I’m not good at public speaking” (Exodus 4:10).
And finally, “Look, could you please just find someone else to do this?” (Exodus 4:13).
God didn’t leave Moses alone and go back to heaven bragging about Moses’ superior humility. No, he got angry at Moses (Exodus 4:14-17). That’s because, more than just being humble, Moses was forgetting the power of God. What looked like humility was really just a cover for a lack of faith in God and his power.
Of course God knew about the obstacles. He knew that Pharaoh would be difficult. He knew that Moses couldn’t talk well. He knew about Moses’ questionable past. But he called him anyway. That’s what God does. He displays his unmatched power through the weaknesses of his broken people.
He called a skeptical weakling, not a battle tested warrior, to lead a mighty army (Judges 6).
He called a tiny shepherd boy, not a grizzly gladiator, to defeat a giant (1 Samuel 17).
He called fishermen, not the spiritual elite or religious celebrities of the day, to be his disciples (Matthew 4:18-22).
God is still working today. He is working in hard places. He is overcoming what seems impossible. And he is working through people like you to do it.
Shaping children into responsible adults is hard. You can’t do it. But God will do it through you.
Teaching a classroom of third graders with special needs is hard. You can’t do it. But God will do it through you.
Making a stand against oppression and injustice is impossible on your own. You can’t do it. But God will do it through you.
Humility is a good thing. It’s more than that. It is an essential thing. But it is possible to mistake humility for something else. Something far different and more sinister than what Jesus commanded for his people.
When God chooses to demonstrate his power through you, his tattered and imperfect instrument, and you curl up, declining his command while citing your weaknesses and all of the other reasons why you can’t do it, you are not being humble. You’re being disobedient.
So watch your humility. Make sure that it doesn’t turn into disobedience. Otherwise you might miss the joy of having the power of God overshadow your weaknesses and work through you in such a way that someone else’s world is changed forever.
You’re right. You can’t do it.
But God can.
And he will.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV)