What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word humility? Does it even matter? I mean how important could it be?
Admittedly, we live in a pretty selfish and narcissistic world today. As a result, we don’t hear a lot about humility, but a lot has been written about this virtue over the years, not the least of which is God’s Word. Scripture is full of references to humility.
C. S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
The most important thing we need to know about humility is that it is the foundation for developing every other character trait and becoming who God created us to be. It is humility which genuinely enables us to see life and others through the eyes of God.
The opposite of humility is pride.
Pride is arguably the most deadly and evil of all sins because it is at the root of all other sins.
Pride happens when we get so focused on our own inflated importance that we are oblivious to the fact that everything we are is from God, and we can do nothing without Him. Although pride has many faces, at its core, it is about being me-centered.
Exalting myself and ignoring or attacking others are obvious examples of pride. But did you know that belittling yourself is also a form of pride?
Humility is not beating yourself up, putting yourself down, or feeling sorry for yourself. This kind of pride masquerades as humility. It’s a reverse way of drawing attention to yourself.
You know what I mean. Someone compliments you, and you put yourself down, pointing out your flaws. Or you always say yes when someone asks you to do something so they will think more highly of you.
I’d love to tell you I’m a humble person, but the truth is that I’m usually writing about what God is working on in my life. We are on this journey together.
“We All want to be humble but what if nobody notices?” – John Ortberg
The problem is we approach being humble in the wrong way. Instead of trying to be humble we need to forget about being humble.
Say what? Yep, you read that right. You will never become humble by trying to be humble. It is not something you achieve by working on it directly. The paradox is that the more you focus on being humble, the more you end up focusing on yourself
Yikes! So what is the answer?
Did you know that in Matthew 11:11 Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest person ever born?
Why? Well, the primary reason was because of John’s humility.
If you study John’s life, you’ll see it would have been easy for him to be prideful. The circumstances of his birth alone could have led him into pride.
Not to mention that barely into his thirties John was enjoying immediate success. His popularity soared as people flocked from all over Jerusalem, Judea, and the surrounding areas to listen to him and be baptized by him.
So what was his secret to remaining humble? It’s revealed to us in John 3:30, “I must decrease, and He must increase.”
That’s it, In one simple sentence, John shows us that he only had a right perspective of who God is, but he also understood who he was in relationship to Him.
The paraphrased version might read, “You are God, and I’m not. It’s all about You, and it’s not about me.”
The extent to which these words are real in our lives will determine how we are growing in humility.
“There is a natural phenomenon that occurs when God takes up more of your field of vision: your focus on yourself automatically gets smaller.” – Katie Brazelton and Shelly Leith, Character Makeover
In order for our focus on God to increase and our focus on ourselves to decrease we need to do the following: We need to be intentional about prayer and time in His word to develop a right view of God, a right view of ourselves, and a right view of others.
When we grasp this truth and embrace John 3:30, we will experience the joy of discovering and becoming who we are created to be.
“The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent worshipful] fear of the Lord is riches, honor, and life.” Proverbs 22:4 AMP
Will you pray this prayer with me?
“Precious Lord, I wish I did not struggle in this area, because it makes me so sad to think about the terrible ripple effects my pride has on others. Worse, though, I am deeply sorry for my pride which attempts to make me the president of the universe and steal glory from you.
Today, I just want to go on record as saying: I love you. I am sorry for all my prideful ways. Thank you for loving me in spite of myself, and most of all, thank you for your extreme kindness and willingness to take me from where I am today. That is truly remarkable to me. It may very well be the very first thing I thank you for when I see you in heaven. In the name of Jesus, amen.” -Excerpted from Character Makeover by Katie Brazelton and Shelley Leith
What is your biggest struggle with humility?
This post first appeared September 26, 2017.