We had been talking about it for a year or two when it finally happened. I was allowed to stay an entire week at my cousin’s home who lived in a town about 100 miles away. So at the age of 7 my first adventure away from the safety of my home began. It was during this week that I learned my first lesson about the difference between humility and humiliation. My cousin Brad was 2 years older than me, but due to a traumatic birth experience his intelligence would never exceed that of a 4 year old child. Brad had this problem of wetting his pants when he would get excited. When his friends knocked on the door and asked us to play, Brad was excited. I went out to play with the kids while Brad went to his mother for a change of clothes. As we were playing next to the house, I told Brad’s friends that he had wet his pants. Somehow it made me feel superior to be able to tell Brad’s friends about his problem. To my chagrin, my aunt happened to be listening to the conversation which took place beneath Brad’s bedroom window. She proceeded to tell Brad’s friends about my bed wetting problem. I was humiliated.
I learned an important lesson that day: humiliation often comes in the absence of humility. It took me a while to realize that humility is a necessary ingredient in friendship. Humility is the precursor to loyalty and the foundation of trust. It is only through humility that I can have sympathy and brotherly love. I wanted to win the adulation of Brad’s friends at the expense of Brad. I was willing to humiliate Brad in exchange for a laugh. I betrayed my own cousin to build up my ego.
The Bible has a lot to say about humility. Jesus humbled Himself to become the son of man when He was the Son of God. Jesus humbled Himself to become sin when He had no sin. There is something about humility that we resist despite the freedom it offers to all who are willing to try it. Without humility, we are headed for bondage rather than freedom, humiliation rather than exaltation, isolation rather than integration, hate rather than love. We read in 1 Peter 5:5-6, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”