Peacock at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Walk humbly

When life gets complicated, sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. I don’t know why the basics are often the first thing we forget, but when life turns upside-down or get so packed full of responsibility, there’s something in me that wants to twist off and just make things up as I go. And I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with that, but when you don’t know what to do or how to act or what choice is wise, the best place to go is back to the beginning. It’s not that we need to make up a new answer. Most of the time, the answer’s already in front of us; we just have to look for it.

Peacock at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Peacock at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Micah 6:8.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

This month I’m focusing on the basics, on what God expects from us, on how to make simple choices in a complicated life. What matters. And this post is part of a three-part series on this one verse, but walking humbly is something I struggle with. Granted I struggle with loving mercy too, but walking humbly is a whole different set of issues.

What does it mean to walk humbly anyway?

Well, all throughout the Bible when it talks about walking it’s usually just talking about living. Our lives are often pictured as a journey or a path on a road, and walking really is used to describe how we live. So what this really is saying is that we need live humbly. And that’s where the sticky part comes in.

What is humility?

Some people get it in their heads that humility is selling everything they own and living in poverty. Some people think that humility is considering yourself so low that you punish yourself or never say anything good about yourself. But are either of those really correct? I mean, yes, humility is a lack of pride. And living in humble circumstances usually means you don’t own much. And nobody’s perfect, so we shouldn’t take pride in being good people. But I don’t think that’s the kind of humility this verse is talking about.

Humility is more than just giving away your possessions or choosing to live in poverty or our self-image. Like faith, humility is a lifestyle. It’s not just one choice you make; it’s a series of choices flowing from the attitude of your heart. And that heart attitude comes from understanding who God is and how He sees you.

The Bible is full of all sorts of verses about how we shouldn’t think we’re better than other people. There are all sorts of verses about how we’re supposed to think about ourselves and our “good works.” And we’re never ever supposed to think that anything we’ve ever done makes us worthy of a relationship with God. But the opposite side of that coin is that God wants a relationship with us anyway. Maybe our best efforts are filthy rags in comparison to His righteousness, but that doesn’t change who He is and how He sees us. We are precious to Him, and that needs to affect how we see ourselves.

It’s not pride to realize how much God loves you. It’s not pride to accept His love and embrace a one-on-one relationship with Him. It’s not pride to be grateful for the possessions He’s given to you, as long as you don’t refuse to share them when He asks.

Pride is telling God He doesn’t know what He’s doing. And maybe none of us would vocalize that, but I can tell you I live like that. I worry. I try to control things. I try to take back the things I’ve given Him because I don’t trust Him enough to take care of them. I ignore what He tells me to do in favor of what I want to do or what makes me feel better. That’s pride.

Pride is trying to be the boss of your own life.

Humility is accepting that God knows better than you do, not just on one topic but on every topic. Humility is turning loose of everything in your life and letting God take care of it. Humility is recognizing who God is–the Creator of everything, the Master of everyone–and choosing to back off. He’s already Lord, and it’s our job to stop fighting Him.

That’s what He requires. That’s what matters. Do right. Love mercy. Live humbly.

But walking humbly doesn’t mean you keep your head bowed and eyes down. Stand tall. Be confident. Following Christ doesn’t mean you have to bow in defeat. Get that head raised up in victory and press forward. That’s not pride; that’s confidence. Get to know God and how He sees you, and you’ll understand.

So today, when all the worries and troubles and conflicts scatter across your path and block your way, don’t stop walking and try to move them yourself. If you try to stop and move them, you’re going to get stuck, and you won’t be able to move them anyway because they’re too heavy for you. Just keep walking and trust that God will take care of it before you reach them. And if it appears that He doesn’t move an obstacle, maybe it’s not an obstacle after all and it’s just a stepping stone.