Leading a Humble Life
By Jeff Cranston
Do you know how you can tell that you are making some progress in Christian growth and maturity? One easy test is the amount of humility you portray. “There is nothing into which the heart of man so easily falls as pride,” said Charles Spurgeon, “and yet there is no vice which is more frequently, more emphatically, and more eloquently condemned in Scripture.”
Read Ruth Chapter 2. Naomi and Ruth have returned to Bethlehem and are getting about the business of building new lives when Boaz pops into the scene. Ruth meets Boaz as she is gleaning in a field—gathering grain left behind by the harvesters, so that she and Naomi would have food. Boaz is the owner of the field, and the story gives us a hint that he is a godly man by the way he deals with his workers.
For instance, in Ruth 2:4, the word “behold” tells us, “Look! See what’s going on in this scene! A rich man, who doesn’t have to do so, carries on a warm relationship with the field workers. He greets them in the name of the Lord God, and they return the greeting. He’s a man who is aware of God’s presence in the little things of life. He doesn’t consider himself too important to rub elbows with his workers because he is wealthy.”
Boaz was above the station in life of those working in the fields, yet he showed humility. Ruth showed humility as well:
Ruth asked permission from Naomi to go and glean in the first place.
She asked permission from the workers to glean after them.
She didn’t behave as though they are obligated to leave stalks behind for her, though they were so obligated by law.
Verse 10 tells us, after Boaz spoke to Ruth, her physical actions are marked by humility, as is the language she uses. She’s amazed that Boaz would take any notice of her.
Your growth as a Christ-follower can often be measured in humility. One of the truest tests of humility comes when you are treated like a servant. It is one thing to choose to serve others, but it’s another thing entirely to choose to be a servant. A servant is often to be taken for granted, overlooked, unnoticed. A servant gives up the right to be in charge of whom they serve, when they serve and how long they serve.
Everything in us screams out against service like this. Our society has trained us well in the art of assertiveness, and we fear anything that even remotely resembles passivity. The notion of being taken advantage of is abhorrent to us, and we most fear becoming a walking doormat with no assurance or strength.
On the contrary, humility, biblically speaking, actually comes from disciplined strength and others-centered power. It is, in fact, the strength and understanding of one’s great dignity and identity in Christ.
Because of our new identity in Christ, we can serve, and we don’t need to be noticed or rewarded here on earth. We understand that we serve one who always sees and who has promised to reward us in eternity.
Jeff Cranston is lead pastor of LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton, S.C.