I have been asking God a lot about humility lately. What is it? How can I know if I’m even going after it? I know that humility is essential to staying sober. One of my favorite sayings is: “When the pride goes up, the sobriety goes down.” But how do I know if I am heading towards pride or humility? What are the signs? The Bible has some great promises concerning humility. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10. So how do I do that?
I think one element that is important to humility is complete and total honesty with God and others. The “How it works” section in the AA Big Book says the following is necessary in order to recover: “rigorous honesty”, being “fearless and thorough” and being “willing to go to any lengths.” There has to be a depth to our honesty that goes as deep as we possibly can go, as honest as we can be with God, with others, and with ourselves. This takes a tremendous amount of courage.
Pride wants to look good before others. It cares more about what others might think than about being right before God. The thing is, when we give in to pride and are not honest about the sins in our hearts and minds, it keeps us ashamed and fearful. There is such freedom in being more concerned about what God thinks than how other people might judge us. I am not saying we have to broadcast all our inner thoughts on a billboard, but we need to be transparent people and we need to have people in our lives: mentors, sponsors, and best friends, who will be willing to listen to the nitty-gritty and call us to the table on sinful thoughts, attitudes and actions.
Another element of humility that seems essential is obedience to the scriptures. Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” For Christians, it is easier to know what to do, than to actually put it into practice. That was Jesus biggest issue with the religious leaders of his day. In James 1:22 it says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” We can be fooled by our pride and think that because we know a scripture or two and are trying to love God, that it makes disobedience somehow okay. The world around is famous for assaulting Christians because of this kind of hypocrisy. While it is true that no one is perfect, a heartfelt attempt at obedience is necessary not only for our souls, but to influence others around us for God as well.
Another way to put humility into practice is when we do blow it, to wholeheartedly apologize to the people we have hurt. Again, excuse-making reeks of pride. Just be humble for what you did and take full responsibility and be willing to make amends. That’s about all any of us can do to make things right. After that, move on. Don’t wallow in guilt over past mistakes. What’s done is done and beating yourself over the head about it is not going to make anything better and is actually a form of pride also. How come you are surprised that you are wicked? That is the human condition and even after trying our best, we all make lots of mistakes. The important thing is attempting to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. That is the goal anyway.
Again, to jumpstart repentance of pride and get on the path towards humility, the four things a person needs are: honesty, obedience, the willingness to apologize, and the heart to make amends. A great scripture to think about is Proverbs 3:5, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” When I do those things, it will help me to grow in my recovery. “When the humility goes up, the sobriety goes up!” Good news for addicts like myself.