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It’s a Do Thing

Monday, November 6, 2017

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (James 4:10, esv).

Humility is a do thing, not a feel thing. Humility is an action, not a style or a mindset.

Let me illustrate. Let’s say you find your friend sitting at his desk, and you ask him about his health. “How are you feeling? I know you’ve been working on getting in shape. Tell me about your fitness program.”

He might reply, “Thanks for asking. I am actually exercising at this exact moment. I’m thinking a lot of exercising thoughts, and I’m remembering right now what it feels like when I exercise. I’m actually quite exercised about my exercising thoughts, and I feel the euphoric feeling you get when you exercise.”

“Humbling yourself is an action, not a concept.”

Naturally you would reply, “That’s crazy talk! Stop thinking about it, and get on the treadmill.”

Get it? Exercise isn’t a feel thing. It’s a do thing.

So is serving. Let’s try another illustration. Let’s say in your domestic division of labor, your spouse does the grocery shopping. (Perhaps you were fired from grocery shopping because of all your compulsive purchases.) Now imagine that your spouse comes home from the store and starts carrying bags of groceries in, back and forth, back and forth, while you just sit there serenely watching. Your spouse might look at you expectantly and wonder if you were planning to help. If you announced, “I’m thinking helpful thoughts right now,” your spouse might be tempted to tell you, “That’s so not helpful! Get up and help me.” Why? Because helping is a do thing, not a feel thing.

Thinking about exercising doesn’t equate to exercising.

Thinking about helping isn’t the same as helping.

Claiming to be humble because you think humble thoughts is equally absurd.

Someone who promotes his own humility (“I am so humble!”) may actually be thinking about himself all the time, constantly examining the way he comes across. That’s not humility. Humility is losing yourself in the doing of serving. Not thinking about yourself at all. I guarantee that when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (recorded in John 13), He wasn’t thinking, Check out this humility. I feel so humble right now. I bet the disciples are awestruck by My humility.

Not once in the Bible are we told to be humble. Not once. It’s never “be humble” or “think humble thoughts.” It’s always “humble yourself.” It’s a do thing.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6).

In fact, after Jesus finished modeling humble service by washing the disciples’ dirty feet, He told them to follow His example and serve one another, and then He added, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17, emphasis mine). Humbling yourself is an action, not a concept.

Humility is a do thing.


  • What does true humility look like? Who would you describe as humble?
  • Humility takes action; it’s a do thing. How can you follow Jesus’ example, humble yourself, and actually serve someone today?

Lord God, I humble myself before You. Show me what true humility looks like. Teach me to lose myself in the doing of serving You and others. Forgive me for being satisfied with just thinking about humility and for thinking too much about myself rather than simply humbling myself. Thank You for the humble Servant-King, Jesus Christ the Lord, in whose name I pray, amen.


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