Someone asked me recently to give a definition of humility. To be brutally honest, my first thought was, "Just be like me!" My guess is that a lot of people would think the same thing about themselves, but we wouldn't want anyone to know it. It sounds so arrogant to say it...so we just think it and pretend that we don't. By the way, people who aren't truly humble do a lot of pretending.
Of course, it IS arrogant, but it's not far from the truth. Let me explain. If you and I are trying to live like Jesus, we'll both be living humble lives. But here's the mistake we make: we take credit for being like Jesus. We think it comes from self-effort. The reality is that it comes from surrender. Not from striving, but releasing.
Thomas Merton, the great contemplative of the 20th century once said, "Humility is being (in the presence of others) exactly the person you are before God." That takes things to an entirely different level, doesn't it. Merton, intentionally or unintentionally, was describing freedom. To be truly free is to live life moment-by-moment as if Jesus is always present (which He is). It's living to celebrate Him, not ourselves...and when we do that, a million other things no longer enslave us or worry us. We won't care whether or not someone approves of us. We won't feel burdened about making a great impression. We won't spend hours obsessing about our appearance, our career, our clothes, our money or our knowledge (or lack of it). We'll stop trying to cover up our considerable internal and external blemishes. We won't view people through the lens of our own lives, nor will we be devastated by the way others view us. We'll be able to just BE...just be with people, and just be with ourselves (who is to say which is easier?).
Wouldn't you love to live beyond the desire for approval, comparisons, and scorekeeping? Humble people do that, and they do it as Merton described: just being the person you are in the presence of God...in the presence of others. In the process, we become humble, but the trick is, we won't notice it, nor will it matter. To say it another way, we'll never genuinely be proud of our humility. Such a thought will always seem so incongruent as to be thoroughly disgusting.
Think of the most Christlike person you know. Got them in your mind? Now ask yourself, "Are they humble?" If they're not, perhaps they're not as much like Jesus as you thought...at least not today! (By the way, on the best day of our lives we all deserve to go to hell...ahh, but for grace).
Now ask yourself another question. Does that person who came to mind seem to think about himself or herself most of the time? Do they appear to be eaten up with worry day in and day out over how they're being perceived? My guess is they don't. In fact, I surmise that, upon closer examination, you'll discover that they don't think much about themselves at all. You know why? Because they're consumed with thinking about others...all the time...(like my wife). You know who you'll think of when you're around people like that? You'll think of Jesus. Sometimes we see Him most clearly...through others...especially people who are humble.
So be like them, and you'll be like Him...and occasionally, you might discover that more often than not, you're humble too...but it won't really matter at all!
In the meantime, enjoy today...and enjoy God. In my "humble" opinion, that's His will for your life!