Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 5:42 am | Fair 53º


D.C. Collier: Stay Humble or Be Humbled

The headline of this column is from a shirt actor Johnny Depp recently wore at a film promotion. It describes perfectly what happened to “yours truly” recently ...

My good friend and fellow columnist, Jim Langley, pulled a dirty trick on me the other day and didn’t even know it. He went and called me a “truly humble man.” He might as well have placed a live grenade at my feet and pulled the pin.

Of course, Jim meant it as a compliment, but it had unintended consequences. In no time, I was strutting around that day (inwardly only, of course) feeling pretty good about myself — even daydreaming, “Maybe I should write a book on humility; perhaps title it something like ‘How I became the humblest man alive.’”

With my shirt buttons popping from pride, I drove to the supermarket to shop for food for an upcoming get-together. Leaving Trader Joe’s, I wheeled my cart to my car, which was parked in front of Albertsons, a half-block away.

After unloading the groceries, I pushed the TJ cart to one of those forbidden parking islands, but then immediately thought, “Wait a minute, Mr. Humble, that’s not neighborly. Put the cart in a better place.” So off I went, to Albertsons — looked around to make sure no one was looking — and proceeded to jam my bright red TJ cart into Albertsons rack by the front door that was obviously filled with all-black carts.

Well, c’mon, at least it was better than leaving it in the parking area, right? You don’t want me to wheel the thing all the way back to TJ’s, do you?

Anyway, satisfied with my half-baked “neighborly” gesture, and confident no one witnessed my hasty retreat, I heard a deep, authoritative voice over my shoulder say, “You know that’s a Trader Joe’s cart, don’t ya?”

It sounded like the voice of God! And there stood a kindly, but blunt gentleman who had followed my every nefarious move. And to make matters worse, he continued, “Here, I’ll move your cart, so it won’t block other shoppers” as he proceeded to gently but firmly right my wrong.

Darn. I was positive no one was looking. So, back to my car, tail between my legs, on my hands and knees picking up all those buttons that had popped off the front of my shirt from my last “humility-fest.”

Compliments can go to our heads like the rush from a fresh shot of heroin. Because the effects are so temporary (like heroin), we end up chasing the next high as a glory-seeking addict. Sad. The approval of men is so vaporous.

A True Test of Character

I’ve said it many times at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. It doesn’t really matter how you behave when you’re being carefully watched. What matters is what you do when no one is looking.

Drug and alcohol addicts are experts at “playing to the audience,” answering questions and behaving in a way that will please their supervisors, mentors and sponsors. To some extent, we’re all that way. And as you can see, I’m no exception.

The words of the only truly humble man who ever lived come to mind here:

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.”1

Have you got a secret life with God that only the two of you share? Do you confide in Him like a best friend? If you don’t, you’re missing out, big time.

Just think how it would transform your inner life if you had someone who knew you down to the bone marrow and still loved you unconditionally, even appreciating your occasional foibles — a Friend you would never dare fool or deceive, knowing such an insult would hurt Him deeply.

You have nothing to fear from the real God of the Bible. He’s not looking down at you from heaven waiting for you to blow it. Far from it.

He longs to hang out with you, to be your Friend. But too often, our lives are so busy, we drown out His voice.

In his book The Pursuit of God, Christian author A.W. Tozer addressed the goodness, openness and willingness of God to welcome us into His life. But to respond, we must turn off the din, quiet our hearts and, above all, listen for His still, small voice:

“The Voice of God is a friendly Voice. No one need fear to listen to it unless he has already made up his mind to resist it. Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion.

“We are at the opposite end of the pole. Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.”2

How About You?

Do you crave approval? Find yourself fishing for compliments to feed the monster of self-glorification? You’re angling in the wrong waters. Instead, seek approval from the only One who counts. For at the end of the day, “nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”3

Consider “fessing up” to the only real Friend you have.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Matthew 6:5-6 The Message (MSG)

2. A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1948)

3. Mark 4:22-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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