The clothing of humility

The street was littered with the peeled jackets from runners that had gone before me, runners with significantly faster paces, likely hoping to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon, an elite group of which I will never join. I trotted along, focusing on my breathing, dodging a North Face pullover. In front of me, a small woman tossed her gloves behind her. We warmed as the sun rose, settling into our rhythmic paces, no longer needing the layers we donned at the chilly starting line. I had broken free from the bottleneck and was finally able to stretch my legs and move comfortably. 

As muscle memory took over, one of my kids' Bible verse songs came to mind from Colossians 3... " Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." 

One of the perks to playing Bible verse songs for my children is that (besides the fact that they're committing scripture to memory without any work on my part) the songs get stuck in my head and spring to memory at the most random times... be it a 3 AM nursing session or, at this particular moment, a race as I dodged damp outer layers of clothing. 

Image result for public domain running shoes marathon

I mulled over this list as I plodded along on the pavement... compassion hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience... I thought of putting them on methodically, preparing for my day. That morning, race morning, I had checked the weather, refreshing it over and over compulsively, as I decided what was needed. Windy, chilly, wet... easy enough.

I've been studying 1 Peter these past couple of weeks and as I read through the text over and over again, the concept of humility has jumped out at me... Peter, the same brash, impetuous Peter with his willing spirit and weak flesh in the gospels, says for us to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another (5:5). He says this to a group of churches being heavily persecuted by the emperor Nero... at a time of intense stress and anxiety (I'm sure) as they watch their beloved friends and family be tortured and martyred. A time when we, today I'm sure, would assure each other that we get a free pass for bad behavior under the infamous and oft-used line: "there's grace for that!"

Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, Peter says. He doesn't specify the type of weather or situation in which to use this particular clothing, rather that it is something we are to always wear, a tattoo of sorts, a permanent fixture. Just as I check the weather before a long run and am intentional to choose the right clothing, socks, shoes and (is this TMI?) vaseline, it is necessary for us to intentionally and prayerfully put on humility toward one another. Before our interactions with our children, our spouses, our friends, our family... what if I approached each and every interaction praying for humility? Rather than brazenly having a conversation unprepared, clothed with my default pride and self-centeredness, seeking to outdo others and prove my worth. 

Let's be intentional... let's clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. Let's receive the words of others wearing that humility... let's be slow to speak (James 1) clothed in that same humility. Let's be a people set apart... a people dressed with thoughtful preparation and careful consideration. Let's parent clothed with humility. Let's be married clothed with humility. Let's receive the grace God gives to the humble so that we can then extend that same grace to others. 

Humility begins with us, clothed in humility as we follow the example of Jesus. Jesus who though He was in the form of God, humbled Himself to death on a cross (Philippians 2).

Humility seeks to prove nothing. Humility offers all.


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