Do you like pie? Me too! The best piece of pie I ever experienced in my life was a strawberry-rhubarb pie my husband’s mom made the first time I had dinner with the Siler family. I had never tasted rhubarb, so that alone was quite a treat. But what I think brought my memory of that pie “over the top” for me, was the shortbread crust. It was AMAZING and I have never managed to duplicate it! As a matter of fact, as I think about it, what makes (or breaks) a good pie for me (be it fruit, meat or pizza pie) is the crust. If the crust is like cardboard and tasteless, I may pick at the filling a little but then I will probably leave the rest.
As I thought about all the varieties of pie, I became curious about the origin of the phrase, “eating humble pie.” The thought of having to “eat humble pie” has never been appealing to me; it was something to avoid. This week I learned that there is a lot more to humble pie than I ever knew. Initially, I found a site online called Joe-ks.com (no kidding!) that confirmed my negative perception of humble pie: “to be proven wrong, especially after boasting.” I got interested however when the article went on to say that the origin of humble pie actually goes back to Medieval times. Back then it was actually called “umble pie.” Containing the liver, heart, entrails and other “bits” leftover from a deer carcass, “umble pie” was served to the servants and others at the “lower tables” in the lord’s hall. What is interesting to me is that humble (sorry, ‘umble) pie had to do with a person’s social status, not with being embarrassed or humiliated.
I wonder if my negative understanding of humble pie relates to how our culture confuses being humble with being humiliated. To be humble is to not be proud. Shouldn’t that be a positive attribute that we want to cultivate? Yet in our culture, we tend to view humility as a sign of weakness. Humiliation in the Cambridge Dictionary helped me to appreciate the difference between the two. To humiliate is: to make someone feel ashamed or lose their respect for themselves. Trying to mentally stand back and take all of this in, I was struck by the contrast between the two. To humble someone else (humiliating them while supposedly elevating oneself) is indeed a WEAK, wretched thing to do! However, there is an intrinsic STRENGTH (dare I say it . . . an out-of-this world loveliness) that is breathtaking when someone chooses to humble themselves out of love for others.
Reflecting on Philippians 2:5-8, isn’t that exactly what Jesus did? While we tend to focus on the story of the baby born in a barn, we fail to appreciate the magnitude of what took place when GOD entered the “lower table” of life on this earth: Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
- Made Himself nothing,
- Taking the very nature of a servant,
- Being made in human likeness.
We dare not take this too lightly! As a servant, Jesus chose to live out a lifetime of “umble pie” in order to forge a way “up” for those who would trust in Him to share the King of kings table ~ Amazing Grace!
We talk in the counseling room about the beauty of humility before God. There will certainly be those who come along our path to humiliate us. It is no small comfort to know that God condemns such behavior. But there’s more! As we give our humiliation over to God as our Comforter (rather than holding on to it) there is a healing balm of His love and mercy that overtakes the ugliness and gives us peace. This is how humility, worked out as a reflection of Christ in us, demonstrates a loveliness that is not lost on God. We can emulate Christ’s humility in our attitude toward others, in His strength, not our own:
- Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . . being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
As we continue our preparation to celebrate His birth, let us cultivate a willingness to “eat humble pie” by loving our neighbor (reflecting how God has loved us.) And don’t forget the importance of the crust (your heart); may it exude the beautiful tenderness of a loving faith dedicated to His Glory!
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant.” Psalm 25:9