Humility is a heart attitude – having an accurate assessment of ourselves by not thinking too highly of our worth or social standing as pride in our ability and importance is a major reason for falling (Rom 12:3; Gal 6:3). A truly humble person who continues to redirect the credit for their accomplishments to the Lord can handle honour and success correctly (Prov 18:12, 29:23). It’s not what we do, rather what God accomplishes through us that is important, with the credit going to Him (1 Cor 3:7-9).
However, a poor self-image is also unhealthy. Humility is seeing yourself through God’s eyes, not your own; rather than thinking less of yourself – just thinking of yourself less! Being humble does not mean we neglect our own needs or we fail to put boundaries around our lives.
We are to make our requests known to Him, with the condition of “not my will but yours be done” if there is a conflict (Mt 26:39). Humility acknowledges His right to be in charge, and submitting to doing His will instead of our own by “Seeking first His Kingdom” (Mt 6:33). This produces a tender heart that is attentive to His voice; where He gives the orders, we obey. We are to have the same attitude as Jesus did, laying down our life for others. He humbled Himself and did not retaliate in any way, but instead committed Himself to God’s righteous judgement and voluntarily gave His life to redeem us, the rebellious sinful creatures He had made (Mt 11:29, 26:63; Phil 2:5-11; 1 Pet 2:23; 1 Jn 3:16).
God blesses, guides, hears the prayers of, and gives grace to those who possess humility but is against the proud (Ps 25:9; Prov 22:4; Dan 10:12; Jas 4:6). In fact the Bible declares, “I [God] live…with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (Isa 57:15). When we humble ourselves He will move on our behalf, for He will not overlook a humble, broken and repentant heart (2 Chr 7:14; Ps 51:17; Lk 1:48).
If I don’t keep humble, I will be humbled
1 Sam 15:17-19). We are given the choice to voluntarily humble ourselves, however if we exalt ourselves through arrogance and pride in our ability without acknowledging His hand of blessing we will be brought low (Mt 23:11,12; Lk 14:7-11).
In order to humble yourself regularly examine your life, and with a ‘responsive heart’ quickly own up and genuinely confess your sin to God (2 Chr 34:27; Ps 32:5; Lk 18:9-14). Look at your own faults and the depravity of your own heart in the light of the perfections of Christ. Do not seek to notice the errors and defects of others, but when you do speak the truth in love and desire their sanctification so they will be built up in Christ (Mt 7:3-5; Eph 4:15). Often our sin is also against others, to whom we must also confess and ask forgiveness – this is a true test of our humility (Jas 3:2, 5:16). Submit to the authority structures over you; if you can’t respect the person, respect the position they have (1 Pet 2:18). Accept wrong patiently, without reacting or trying to justify yourself (1 Pet 3:8-17). Graciously receive correction and feedback from others, as there will be some element of truth in their observation (Prov 10:17, 12:1). Endeavour to elevate others and serve them, not yourself or your own interests (Lk 7:36-39; Phil 2:4). Be continually thankful to God for the gift of salvation (1 Thes 5:18). As pride is a hallmark of our human nature, whereas God’s nature in us brings humility, we should continually deny our self-nature with its reactions and embrace the cross (Lk 9:23; 1 Cor 15:31).
Lord, I can't do it without you
first, giving credit to God and other people for the beneficial input received – it is gentle and not pushy (Ps 115:1; Phil 2:3; Tit 3:2); Humility doesn’t demand its own way; it is more concerned with fulfilling responsibilities than ensuring needs or rights are being met. Humility is having a proper respect for God, others and ourselves. There is no desire of revenge for the wrong done to us (Mt 18:21-35). Being saved is humbly accepting God’s offer of mercy as a gift we don’t deserve – it’s not by our own efforts (Eph 2:8,9). Let another notice and praise you, don’t boast in your own ability rather that you know God, acknowledging it’s He who gives the ability to get riches and achieve (Deut 8:18; Prov 27:2; Jer 9:23,24).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus began the list of character traits He was looking for in His followers with “Blessed are the poor in spirit (or humble) for to them belongs the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). Whatever God asks us to give up and surrender to Him is so He can give us something better (Lk 18:18-30). Do I love and trust God enough to yield up my rights and all I have to Him?
It’s not about me, it’s about my Lord – humility is submitting to His Lordship
(Mt 18:1-4, 20:26-28). Paul served in humility and exhorted his readers to be completely humble and gentle (Act 20:19; Eph 4:2).
When we speak out against sin and confront others, it must be with humility – with the aim of restoring relationship with God and others (Gal 6:2). It should not done lightly but with a right attitude.
False humility is an excuse of not attempting to do something; true humility (even with trepidation) is doing it with the Lord’s help – acknowledging “By myself I can do nothing” yet “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” – a humble confidence and dependence on Him (Jn 5:30; Phil 4:13).
Fasting is another means of humbling oneself – provided it is done with the right motive, and not as the Pharisees who were not humble in spite of their regular ‘visible to all’ fasting (Mt 6:16,18).
“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Mic 6:8). The more humble we become the more grace of God can flow into and through us. Moses was recognised as the most humble person on the earth (Num 12:3).