As a counsellor I am, on very rare occasions, gifted with a token of gratitude from a client. Usually it is chocolates, cookies or something similar. When I receive such a gift, my normal response is, “Thank you; I’ll share this with the team.”
Not only does my work team appreciate the sharing of edible gifts, but the very act of sharing in itself does wonders for me. It reminds me that I am not alone in the work I do. It reminds me that my counselling efforts are shared and recognised by the whole team. And it serves to remind me just how much I cannot work in isolation but must rely on the camaraderie I share with my fellow counsellors.
It occurs to me that Christianity is much like this. I was discussing the concept of humility recently with some people from church and we were trying to define what it is. One suggestion was, “Humility is the willingness to lower oneself in order to share one’s gifts for the benefit of others.”
We see the perfect example of humility in Jesus’ crucifixion. He came to earth as God but humbled Himself to bear our sin, for our benefit. His humility brought us into relationship with God. If I apply this definition to some everyday examples, humility for me might look like this:
- I humble myself by doing the washing up, knowing that it benefits the whole household, even though it’s the last thing I feel like doing.
- I humble myself by sharing my songs and writing with the public, opening myself up to critique, because the stuff I write may be of benefit to others.
- I humble myself by listening to others because they may need their stories to be heard.
- I humble myself by giving money to the unsuspecting homeless person, knowing that all my money comes from God and ultimately belongs to Him anyway. My surrender to God benefits others financially.
- I humble myself before the mysteries of God, knowing that He holds all the mysteries of the universe in His hands and that He can be trusted with them. My trust in God can be shared with others.
Humility is certainly countercultural. Society values the hoarding of wealth for later in life. In contrast to this, Christ’s example teaches us that we are given gifts in order to give them away. According to the parable of talents (Matthew 25:14-30), gifts are given to us not so that we can hoard them but so that they can be shared and may multiply. The decision to share what we have is a sign of humility.
A gift could be any resource at our disposal. It could be time and availability. It could be money. It could be skill, talent and training. It could be our experiences. Even the worst experiences of life have contributed to our history and shaped us into the people we are today. These experiences can be shared for the benefit of others.
Thank You God for all the gifts You have given me today: the time, money, resources, gifts, abilities and experiences that have made me who I am. I don’t necessarily understand why You have given me these things. But thank You; I’ll share them with the team.