4 things everyone should know about humility
Is your understanding of humility Biblically correct? You may be surprised!
There can be a lot of confusion that surrounds humility. Often, humility is associated with quietness, submission and thoughts of inadequacy. But, what does the Bible actually say about it?
Here are four Biblical points that every Christian should know about humility.
1. Humility means submission, but not groveling
Humility and submission go hand in hand. God’s Word tells us that, as Christians, we are to submit to one another in lowliness of mind. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5-6.
By being submissive and “clothing ourselves with humility” we can create peace and unity with the others. We are not to be so proud and high up that we can’t accept correction or exhortation. Neither should we be of the mindset that our own opinions and thoughts always are better than the others. Such thinking won’t lead us to any progress or unity in Christ.
At the same time, being submissive and humble does not mean in any way, shape or form that we are to bow down to other people. Paul was very clear when he said that we are to serve God and God alone. For, “you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23. He also writes: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.
While it is important to be submissive: to accept correction and remain lowly in our own eyes, as Christians, we are to seek to please God with our lives. We need to fear Him and keep His word. This should be our focus: to humble ourselves under God’s will and live and breathe to keep His commands, not to try to meet human demands and expectations.
2. Humility does not mean that we are silent, or passive people
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward…rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4. God desires that Christians possess a gentle and quiet spirit. It is of the utmost importance that we are humble and still in our , so that we can hear God’s Spirit speaking to our hearts throughout the day.
However, possessing a gentle and quiet spirit does not mean that we should be passive people. God also requires action and zeal in our lives. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is taken by force. (Matthew 11:12) All those who want a deeper life with Christ realize that they need to be zealous, as well as humble, in their inner man. Sin cannot be allowed to reign in the heart of a disciple! If we are humble in our inner man, having a desire to do God’s will, then we will do whatever it takes to keep our hearts and minds pure. Paul writes that we are not to be “…lagging in diligence [zeal],” but rather “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
Likewise, while we should always have a quiet and meek spirit before the Lord, there are some situations where God wants us to be bold and speak up before others. Here, we need to forsake our own honor, reputation and natural expectations, as always, and obey the Lord with all reverence. We should not question our own authority or ability to say or do something that God wants to be accomplished through us. Instead, we should allow God to use us exactly as He pleases in every situation.
3. Humility means we use our talents and capabilities
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12: 3. To have a humble mindset is to think soberly about oneself. This means that we don’t boast of our own accomplishments and abilities. Rather, we acknowledge that our sufficiency is of God in all of things. (2 Corinthians 3:5)
Nonetheless, this does not mean that we should neglect the gifts and the heavenly calling that God Himself has given to us. God wants to do a tremendous and transforming work in us and through our lives! He has equipped us each with our own talents and gifts and bought us with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-20)
God desires to be able to use us to His glory and for His purpose, and each of us should be aware of this. Humility is that we use our talents and capabilities under God’s direction and leading, giving Him the honor and glory for what is accomplished in and through our lives.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11.
4. Humility is the key to progress
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:6-8, 10. God works according to laws. It is a natural law that if we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, surrendering our own will and honor, then He will give us the grace that we need to live a Christian life in truth, as well as exalt us in His time.
To be humble is to have the same mindset as Jesus Christ. He existed in the form of God, but did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, or held onto. Instead, He took on the form of a servant, and came in the likeness of men. “And, being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8.
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. He did not value His own self-importance or honor, but freely gave it up in every situation so that God’s will could be carried out and God could be glorified through His life.
If we are of this same humble mindset, forsaking our own reputation and honor in order to be obedient to God’s word and will, we will be able to make unbelievable progress in our Christian lives! In fact, God pays very close attention to our hearts and is ready and eager to strengthen those who desire to live unto His honor and glory. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’” Isaiah 66:1-2.
God desires that we be among such ones, those who have a humble mindset and a desire and need to do His will, who tremble at His word. We are not to be rich and satisfied in ourselves. That is pride and stops God from doing a transforming work in our lives. Rather, we are to be humble and lowly of heart. Then God will regard us and give us the grace we need to make true progress in our Christian lives.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.