I Can’t But He Can, Part 3: A Dose of Humility


humilityPhilippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

I’ve written about how both desperation and dissatisfaction can lead us toward an I can’t but He can mindset. But without a healthy dose of humility, the words remain little more than a vain repetition.

I’m not a Catholic, but as I watched Pope Francis begin his duties by bowing his head and asking the crowd at Basilica Square to pray for him, I got choked up. His humble demeanor gave a clear definition of I can’t but He can thinking. His was a striking contrast to those who count on manipulation and self-reliance to catapult them to the top.

Many of us don’t recognize our lack of humility until we painfully come up short. Oswald Chambers writes God gives us the gift of humiliation to bring a softness of heart that will listen to God. Anyone like to be humiliated? Of course we don’t, but I have to admit that a shot of it creates in me a greater tenderness and a more attentive ear. It strips away the facade of self-sufficiency and draws me into a deeper dependency on God.

Humility is sometimes cast as feeling bad about ourselves. We fail to meet others’ or even our own expectations. Maybe wallow in a bit of self-pity. However, there’s a huge difference between low self-esteem and humility.  Humility consists of more than a realization of I can’t.

True humbleness lies in not thinking of ourselves at all. It moves us from introspection to God-spection, from the I can’t to the He can.

Philippians 2:8 says Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient even to death. His death on the cross was the ultimate giving up of self. Rather than clinging to his last ounce of human effort, he thrust himself into the hands of the one who could deliver him from death…. “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” echoes the ultimate I can’t but He can.

So whether you are facing a crisis or desiring more than the status quo, don’t be afraid of humbling yourself. If God is using some humiliation to help free you from the tyranny of self-effort, don’t resist him.

Take that dose of humility and let I can’t but He can resound as your new mantra!

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