For followers of Christ, true humility comes as we become more aware of our own sinfulness.
In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
I grew up in church, but in some ways it served like a bubble to me. As a young person and new believer, I was very naïve about life, its pitfalls, and the need for me to mature to face it.
I thought I was safe, protected by my decision for Christ. It was only in the last few years, and months, that the scales have fallen from my eyes, and I can see more clearly.
I Have Failed God
The reality is I have failed God, others, and myself countless times, by committing acts of sinfulness, and omitting acts of holiness. Saying I am a Christian doesn’t let me off the hook for being personally accountable to how I live.
Jesus isn’t some unknowing big brother I can deceive into protecting me while lying to Him that it’s the other person who is wrong, not me.
Confronted by my own sin and shame, I have to accept the truth that I have to own my shortcomings, even when I am tempted to blame someone else.
In the midst of my grieving, one question I wrestle with is how I can ever hope to be “pure”?
I look back on how much of my life I have let waste away, chasing after the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). This is time I could have spent growing in maturity, devotion, and fellowship.
God Has Not Failed Me
Despite the ever-clearer picture of myself I am beginning to see, and the sorrow it brings, something surprising happens. I find more hope and safety in Jesus Christ than I ever did before.
I believe that with God’s strength and empowerment, I can still be used by him. Even if my destiny is to be a “common utensil”.
And I also feel humbled. The realization of my own sin came through tears and sorrow. It can take a little time to rise up out of the ashes of my despair.
But I did rise, because once I made it to the other side of wrestling with my pain, I knew Jesus Christ’s love for me and His desire to show mercy to all who would come to Him was still there waiting for me (Titus 3:4-7).
My life can be clean going forward. When we live in repentance, our sins – even those the world would “rank” as the most terrible – will be forgiven.
Part of taking responsibility for remaining in purity is being disciplined in the activities that allow me to abide with Christ. Even the common utensils are kept clean, ready for use.
But am I past the possibility of shining like gold? When confronted with my own unrighteousness I feel like the worst sinner of all (1 Timothy 1:15).
The Benefits of Humility
The truth is, the closer we draw to Christ, the more we will become aware of our own sinfulness, powerlessness, and pride.
As we draw closer to Him and Jesus reveals more of His holiness to us, we will be confronted with how short we come in His presence.
It is painful and awful to have to admit this truth, but unless we get to the place where we own that deep down in the recesses of our soul, God cannot refine us into an instrument that is useful to Him. The more God humbles us, the more able we are to serve Him through abandoning ourselves to Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wrestled with being humbled? Have you ever felt so convicted by your pride, selfishness, and sinfulness that you ask yourself how your life can ever be of use to Jesus Christ?
Thank goodness that being a follower of Jesus Christ is not about us measuring up on our own strength.
When we give up our own way, take up our cross and follow Him, sometimes the thing we have to give up is our self-sufficiency. We cannot hope to live in holiness apart from His indwelling.
When we abide with Christ, it is so He can transform us into His “special utensil”.
In our humbling, we begin to learn what it means to say “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30)
Becoming More Aware of God’s Love
Another result of being humbled in God’s presence is that we can learn how to love Him more.
When we are in the midst of grief over our own unworthiness, we are in the valley. It is hard to see beyond our momentary grief.
Once we move beyond our despair, we can balance feeling less worthy by exploring and realizing the true depths of Christ’s love for us. This produces a new awareness and appreciation for His love for us.
In turn, it helps us to love Him even more.
The only other option is to stay in despair. We can choose to do that, but only by another type of self-sufficiency; closing ourselves off to God’s healing work in our hearts.
So when we come to a place where we become aware of our own sinfulness, we need to be willing to do the painful work of owning it, followed by a deepening repentance and dependence on our walk with Jesus Christ. This will be followed by an increasing appreciation of His great love for us.
More verses describing the results of becoming aware of our own sinfulness: