I’ve recently heard some good teaching on humility and I thought I’d share it.
There’s one thing that really gets in the way of the truth of humility. These are the misconceptions that people have about humility.
The first misconception is that humility is a quality that if you “know” you have it, or reflect on being humble, then you are not humble. However look at Paul in Acts 20:
Act 20:18–19 And when they came to him, he said to them: "You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews;
Paul here is being publicly reflective on his own humility. This misconception says that this would be false humility. If this is the case then in this section, then Paul must be mistaken. A big problem if we believe in the inspiration of scripture. This misconception is also frustrating; I operated under this misconception for along time. With this misconception, you can never experience or appreciate growth in this area, since as soon as we think we have grown, on this view; we are proud and not humble. How frustrating
The second misconception is that humility is self abasement i.e. putting ourselves down, thinking bad about ourselves (see how this links to the first misconception). Again using Paul as an example, does not abase himself when he talks about himself, with the exception of the “thorn in the flesh”. This is also in Colossians chapter 2 and Romans 12:16. Self Abasement is false humuility.
Humility is not demeaning your achievements. In the Old Testament the world translated as pride in the negative sense in a different sense is translated as excellence. We have “excellencies” which are only pride when regarded in the wrong way.
So, what is Humility?
Well, like many qualities it’s not really defined in the bible. We see it lived out by biblical characters instead. As Christians our model is Jesus Christ therefore we should look at Philippians 2:
Phi 2:5–11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus was God in all his glory, with all the privileges of deity, but he didn’t consider those privileges something to be held on to or grasped, but was willing to let them go, never ceasing to be god, but letting the privileges go, becoming a servant of man.
Jesus went from a very high station, relative to those he was serving, and assumed a low station, relative to those he was serving. Humility is whenever we take the lower station with respect to another person, and pride is whenever we take the higher station. Put another way, humility is when we put someone else in the centre of our world, and pride is when we put ourselves in the centre
What are evidences of Pride?
Exalting yourself in the presence of others i.e. bragging
Criticizing other people i.e. putting them down
Thinking of our own needs first
Seeking forgiveness is an example of humility
Forgiving someone restores them to the high status in your life. You remove yourself from the position of the judge.
Praise other people – it raises them up and encourages them.
It is really easy to do this – not cheep flattery but sincere appreciation.
Humility begets humility
Humility has its most vital application in the area of relationships. See John 13
Joh 13:3–5 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, (4) rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. (5) Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
There is no profound humility without sacrifice. There is no profound love without profound humility.
Hope this is helpful
Comments/Questions are welcome
- All bible quotations from the ESV