Summary: Practice Christian Humility by remembering your history and by remebering His story.
The price of pride is going up. No, really. In an effort to stem showboating and taunting after touchdowns, the NFL has started handing out huge fines totalling thousands of dollars. Pride doesn’t come cheap in our circles either. While we may never get slapped with a fine for a display of arrogance, a lack of humility can hurt a spouse, cause tension between siblings, and divide a congregation. While a professional athlete might be able to compensate for practicing pride by simply paying a penalty, in real life there’s no quick fix. Therefore it’s to our advantage to eliminate the consequences of practicing pride by practicing humility instead. Practicing Christian humility is quite simple - just remember your history and His Story.
What exactly is Christian humility anyway? The word translated as humility in our text (v.2) means gentleness, or meekness. One ancient Greek (Aristotle) defined it as the middle ground between extreme anger and indifference. Humility, therefore, is not just an attitude; it’s an attitude in action. Humility does what is best for others with an unassuming gentleness. That’s what Paul describes in Galatians 6:1. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
In the opening verses of our text Paul gives us some further examples of how Christian humility manifests itself. “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate” (Titus 3:1, 2a). Christian humility offers obedience to all those in authority whether it’s Mom, Grandpa, a substitute teacher, or a by-law officer. Even if we think that we know how to lead better than they, Christian humility will recognize that God hasn’t given us that responsibility, at least not yet, and until he does we owe our obedience to these people lest we make their jobs more difficult.
Instead Christian will be peaceable and considerate (v. 2). The word considerate means to be yielding, or willing to give up our rights to keep the peace. For example even though that last piece of pie was supposed to be yours, out of consideration you will be happy to let big brother have it instead. You see, Christian humility isn’t about making sure we get our fair share; it’s about making sure that others are taken care of. We don’t need to worry about standing up for our rights because our Father in heaven has promised to do that for us.
The most difficult thing about practicing Christian humility is that Paul says that this is something we are to do for all people, not just the ones that we get along with (Titus 3:2). We are to show gentleness to those who cut us off on the highway, or run us over with a baby stroller in the mall and don’t bother to say sorry. We are even to practice Christian humility with that individual who thinks he’s always right. Practicing humility, however, doesn’t mean keeping our mouth shut and going along with evil. Remember that humility is the middle ground between harshness and indifference. Therefore we will address wrongs but not in a way that strives to put others in their place. Instead we will seek to correct patiently and gently lest we alienate those whom we are trying to help.
But just how can we show humility to people that we don’t get along with when it’s tough enough being humble around the people that we like? It’s simple – remember your history. Paul said in v. 3, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
When you are tempted to get disgusted with another’s rudeness or shallowness just remember your history. We weren’t any better before God found us. At one time we were foolish when it came to spiritual matters. Since we didn’t realize that God takes care of us we spent our time just making sure that we looked after ourselves instead of looking after others. We thought the way to get ahead was to step on and over others. We were enslaved by our passions and lusts, not just indulging them every now and then, but living for them – structuring our life in such a way that we could gratify them. The scary thing is that this isn’t ancient history is it? In fact we even find ourselves living in the past when we do things like abuse alcohol, misuse our body, or treat fellow Christians with contempt and suspicion.
Pride and arrogance quickly vanish when we remember our history because we realize that aren’t better than others. We see that we too need God’s forgiveness and continued guidance even as Christians because our past keeps trying to creep into the present.