Interesting, isn't it, how big of a difference three little letters can make?
Take for example the words humility and humiliate. On some level, we would all like more humility in our lives. We value that ability to have a fair, honest, and humble assessment of ourselves that keeps us from being big-headed and arrogant. Have you ever heard a friend say that they don't want humility? I haven't.
On the other hand, no one I know wants to be humiliated. Year after year, one of the top three fears for Americans is public speaking (mixed in with spiders and heights, I think). We talk all the time, so why fear public speaking? Because we might say something embarrassing, or trip over our words, or fumble around and that would be...you guessed it, humiliating. We tend to work very hard to avoid situations that might humiliate us.
Have you ever considered our power to choose between these two words? The way I see it, we are daily making the choice between humility or the inevitability of being humiliated. Here's how I understand the difference. Jesus said that, "Everything that is hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light and made plain to all." (Luke 8) Think about that- everything. All our "hidden" thoughts, motives and actions. The behaviors or attitudes we work very hard to keep from others. The mistakes we have made that we keep out of view. All of it made plain for everyone to see. This does not sound pleasant!
But here is where our choice comes in to play. When we choose to face truth about ourselves in the presence of others we are actively pursuing humility. Simply put, this is a definition of confession. The truth may not be pleasant, but in choosing to reveal it rather than hide it, we discover humility. The opposite is also true. When we choose to ignore truth about ourselves and attempt to mask or cover anything unpleasant about us, we are actively choosing humiliation. Oh sure, maybe not humiliation in the immediate context, but sooner or later our hidden lives have a way of becoming public, don't they? And what's even more, Jesus suggests in Luke 8 that even if we manage to keep all the ugly covered up in this life, it will be uncovered in the life to come. One way or another, truth surfaces and we face the music.
So, my challenge lately has been to choose truth now rather later. Deal with what is unpleasant today because it will only be worse tomorrow. And each time I make this choice, I point my life towards humility. And I would much rather be headed there than to blunder blindly on until humiliation finds me. Because eventually, it always will.
May you choose for humility this week as you journey on...