Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Humility and Diplomacy

The third of my ponderings is regarding Humility and Diplomacy.  I believe many in the Christian community confuse the two terms and rather than stand up for what is right and say it straight, they try to make themselves appear humble by being diplomatic.  I believe this misrepresenting of the term humility has contributed to a wishy washy form of Christianity which fails to confront when it is necessary.

In the Bible a number of words are used for humble and humility (eg. Strongs 6031,3665,6038,7807,6041,5013,5011,5012) The general flavour being along the of:
  • to depress literally or figuratively or be depressed, in mind or circumstances
  • to bend the knee; hence, to humiliate, vanquish:--bring down, into subjection, under, downcast, condescension, abase, cast down
  • human and subjective (modesty), or divine and objective (clemency):--gentleness, humility, meekness
Interestingly a modern definition of the word humble is: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance.  A far softer definition than the bible uses.

The word diplomacy or it's Greek root 'diploma' does not actually appear in scripture although there are various instances of diplomacy through treaties and becoming "all things to all men."  Because the confusion lies with our modern understanding of diplomacy I will use a dictionary definition: The art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way.

Let us also note that the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 does not include humility.  Neither does Jesus mention 'the humble' in what we call the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.  James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 refer back to Proverbs 3:3 which says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."  In fact when we consider the use of the word humble in the Bible it is usually used in regards to mans relationship with God and not with each other. 

And yet we have become so self obsessed that even humility is taken to be in regards to each other.  In Philippians 2:3 when it says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (NASB) it is saying that in your humility towards GOD consider others better than yourself.  We need to reread the scriptures with this premise in mind: BEING HUMBLE IS ALL ABOUT MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
  • Luke 18:14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
  • Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
  • Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
So becoming humble is recognising and acknowledging our position in relation to God.  It's not about us!  So why are we obsessed with being politically correct ie diplomatic?  If we acknowledge our position in relation to God we are also recognising his relationship both to us and the universe.  This should be the standard of our convicitons and not our relationship with each other.

Don't try to make yourself appear humble by being diplomatic - sometimes you just have to say it how it is.
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