The Narrow Path of HumilityThe general idea of humility could be manifested in many ways, and the most fundamental one for Christians should be “Humble yourselves before the Lord.” (James 4:10) because “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4). In general, being humble in heart, in contrast to being haughty in heart, by learning from our Lord Jesus as is commanded in Matthew 11:29 should be a basic personal quality of each Christian. Accordingly, among the children of God, we should “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2).
However, as we know, the truth is a narrow path, and the truth of humility is one of the good examples.
We are taught by our Lord Jesus that we should “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13), and we also know that Jesus is the gate as we are told by our Lord, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) When Apostle Thomas asked about the way to follow, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
As in all other areas of Christian life, when it comes to the issue of being humble, the biggest challenges might still be the evil play of the devil in different guises, some of which might even look apparently opposite to each other. The following are some common devices used by the devil to ruin the decent humble hearts of Christians, as well as the general public.
The first device used by the devil in its attempt of ruining an innocent humble heart is to seduce a person to puff up his/her self-pride. Although this trick is very well-known to the whole world, it is still a dangerous pit for all human beings, including Christians.
The second device used by the devil for messing up the decent humility is to mislead a person into the false humility of self-degradation, as Apostle Paul warned us in the Holy Scriptures, “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:23).
The third device might be the most deceitful and also most brutal for the people on earth, especially for Christians, because of its apparent positive guises. This device might come in two different levels of guises. At its first level, it is to disarm our self-confidence through attacks against those who dare to be confident of their gifts from God by falsely accusing them for self-puffing-up.
At its second level, it is to explicitly demand Christians to submit ourselves to the dark forces as Apostle Paul was referring to in his warning “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.” (Colossians 2:18).
In addition to the false angels and idols as Paul mentioned in above paragraph, in general, Christians might be explicitly demanded in the name of humility to submit ourselves to things like the so-called social norms, the majority or authoritative wrongdoings, or even all kinds of obvious dark forces in the world. At this level, the devil would often use two weapons that could be potentially effective in disarming Christians: 1) use the outward humility as a general principle without the discrimination of good and evil in the outward objectives; 2) use the existing social authority as a general principle, again without the discrimination between good and evil.
We do know that Christianity is utterly different from social revolutions and thus we need to respect the existing social order or norms. This, like humility and many other good and correct things, has also become an excuse used by the devil to deceive Christians, in a similar way as a crook attempting to abuse the trust of an honest person. One caveat we should have here is that the devil is capable of manipulating the so-called social norms or social authorities.
It is often omitted by the nowadays churches when teaching humility that the dark force in general has never been shy in the history to demand others to be humble and submit themselves to it. It has been a very familiar type of pictures to the world that people were demanded to kneel down or bow down before a brutal oppressor, no matter a street bully or an abusive ruler of the society or any other forms of oppressor, apparently civil or brazenly brutal. Even among ordinary people in everyday life, it is also not uncommon that some people demand others to be humble to them when they are outperformed by others. We might list much more examples of the wrongs or evils demanding the right or innocent people to humbly subdue themselves.
Here we need to notice that humility in its appearance is one type of so-called “attitude”. The critical point of demanding Christians to be humble to the wrong or dark forces is to demand the so-called right attitude from Christians towards the wrong or dark forces.
What is special about the attitude? The answer actually is not complicated: one’s attitude would not only affect one’s action but more importantly affect one’s mind.
At the action level, it would be much easier for the devil to manipulate its victims if they would always be humble towards the dark forces that are determined to enslave and abuse them. Whatever actions that might be threatening the evil being of the dark forces, such as questioning their intentions or demanding them to tell the truth or asking for fair treatments or protesting their evil deeds and so on, could all be interpreted as not having a humbly correct attitude towards them, and would be forbidden or punished by the dark forces. Consequently, if the attitudes of all others towards the dark forces are all approved by them as humbly correct, then it would be much easier for them to manipulate those innocent people or even enslave them.
Although the so-called dark forces might appear in various forms, some might be very ordinary or even apparently noble and gentle while some others might be simply nasty and brutal, as a matter of fact, the attitude is always critical for the dark forces to maintain their powers in this world, no matter what appearances they might hide behind. At the extreme, as we could learn from all available informational sources that it is a common thing within any criminal circle that all its members are required to have a right attitude towards that circle which would basically be the top ones of the organization. More generally, whenever it is possible, the dark forces would never be shy to demand anyone else to have a humble attitude towards them since that is critical for their survival.
At the mental level, having a humble attitude towards the dark forces might become helpful to the purpose of the devil in the spiritual domain for stopping Christians from walking in God’s plans for them. As long as some Christians are willingly from their hearts to be humbly submitting themselves to the dark forces (in various forms in the world), it would be easier for the devil to hold them back from following Jesus in the good plans for them.
When devil uses this third device of ruining the righteous humility of Christians, it is mainly playing with two logical thin lines, one is between being righteously humble and being submissive to false accusations and wrongdoings or even various types of dark forces, and another is between the normal social order in the form of governing authority or general norms and the evil oppression that would be manipulated by the devil to serve its own evil purposes. The confusingly tough challenge here is how to avoid subduing ourselves to the wrong or evil forces while abstaining from self-haughtiness, or how to avoid unreasonable disrespect of the existing social order due to mistaking Christianity for general social revolutions while staying in justice firmly with a sober mind and gentle heart.
Obviously, there are two deep trenches on the two sides of the right way of being humble, one is to do wrong or submit ourselves to the wrong or evil, and the other is to puff ourselves up to a haughty state or unreasonably disrespect the existing social order or norms. The path between those two trenches is very narrow, but we can still walk through the right path with confidence as long as we follow our Lord Jesus because we know that Jesus will always guide us and protect us who believe in Him!
Glory to our Lord Jesus!