It’s been a few weeks since the College Football Playoffs ended, though there’s still plenty of buzz in these parts about how they played out, especially the championship game. (You may have heard that Alabama won.) But it was the end of the dramatic double-overtime semi-final game in the Rose Bowl that left a memorable scene that is still being discussed.
Right after the end of Georgia’s dramatic 54-48 win over #2 Oklahoma, as the two teams exited the field, a TV camera caught Georgia player Davin Bellamy shouting at the Sooners’ Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has been no stranger to controversy during his career, and earned a reputation as a brash and cocky player, on and off the field. Bellamy’s message to him was short and very much to the point:
And then, as if needed for emphasis, he repeated it once more: “Humble yourself!”
It was not exactly the kind of “trash talk” one is accustomed to seeing in or after an intense and emotional football game. And the video clip of the unique confrontation quickly spread across the internet.
It remains good advice for all of us, whether you’re a braggadocios quarterback or just a normal person who struggles with pride and self-sufficiency. If pride is the first sin, then humility is the first virtue. It has been a common theme through Proverbs, and in my reading this week from Proverbs 22, I came across this verse: “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” (v. 4)
I love that connection between humility and fearing the Lord. It doesn’t mean we cower down because we’re scared of the Lord, but that we know our place, and that we recognize who He is. The foundation of the whole collection of Proverbs is summed up so well in Prov. 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
As I have repeated a few times over the past few Sundays, that is best understood when we realize that He is God, and we’re not. I read about some folks who were on a mission trip to Nigeria who saw a sign painted on the side of a bus: “Man no be God,” it said simply, if not so grammatically correct. That sums it up well, doesn’t it? You aren’t God, you never were, and you never will be. Start there, and you’ll be on the right path.
All spiritual growth begins with that understanding. Until you grasp what it means, you are still in spiritual kindergarten. But humility doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It’s the virtue which, if you think you have it, you probably don’t. D. L. Moody used to pray, “Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.”
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand,” wrote the apostle Peter, “that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6) “God opposes the proud,” James echoed, “but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
May we live humbly and securely beneath His strong hand this week, in the grace that He provides.