My daughter, who turns 14 today, has been writing an essay on humility this week. I’m very proud of her.
When we Christians think about humility, we have a very different meaning than the world around us. In many cultures humility is a sign of weakness. It communicates meekness, trepidation, and lack of confidence. It’s strange how a concept or even word can become so misinterpreted and misrepresented.
Are you a humble person? Do you find humility attractive? What is true humility anyway?
Ghandi, I think, comes very close in defining the true nature of humility. He writes, ” Humility is an accurate assessment of ones assets and liabilities.” I would suggest that this ‘accurate assessment’ focuses more on ones liabilities. A humble person is someone that has come to grips with the reality of sin. A humble person has a clear God-perspective on the human condition and our equally desperate need for grace!
God hates pride. He ‘resists the proud’, yet gives grace to the humble. Why? Maybe it’s because proud individuals have an inaccurate assessment of themselves. They think they are wise when they are truly not. They believe they are better than others, when in fact, they are at best equal. The proud person doesn’t quite accept the objective reality that they are selfish by nature, willing rebels against God’s good Law and deserving retribution. A proud person may say they want forgiveness, but inside they don’t think they really need it.
Humble folks have come face to face with their nature, their disposition, and status before God. They recognize their fallen state, and fall on God’s grace for forgiveness. They know they can’t earn forgiveness, only accept it. They offer grace to others because grace has been experienced. The proud, not so. The proud continue in the delusion that they are an exalted being. They’ve over-valued their stock, misrepresented their assets and deceived themselves into believing they are better than others, stronger, holier, wiser, more beautiful.. and the lies go on and on. God hates pride, because He hates this deception.
One last thought. Is God humble? Was Jesus humble? If Ghandi was close to being correct and humility is simply having an accurate view of oneself.. then the answer is a resounding yes! Jesus, who came in the flesh as God’s son to showcase God for us, had an accurate view of Himself. Every claim He made was proven true and certified through the resurrection. Jesus didn’t think more highly of Himself than was reality, nor did He think less. When he rebuked sin in the religious leaders, He was accusing them of false pretense – or pride. He continually elevated honesty, transparency, integrity, kindness, mercy – all of which we see represented in living color through the gospels. God can, in this sense, expect worship from His creation because He truly deserves it. He’s not suffering from pride or insecurity if the reality IS that He is perfectly holy, good and deserving of honor.
Jesus was humble. Jesus came ‘down’ to earth, making Himself a servant to mankind. If He didn’t lay down His life we would all be left in our pride and shame. He came for the sick, those walking in the delusion of cocky independence. To be like Jesus is to first recognize our accurate position before God as rebels, and lay down our swords. This is humility, this is beautiful. To be like Jesus is then offer the same grace received to others, without recompense.
God give us an accurate view of ourselves that we may walk in honesty toward you, and one another. Give us this gift of humility. Let it impact us from the inside out. May we never be a people given to false humility, just another form of pride and deception.
Bruce & Deborah Crowe
Missionaries | Rzhyshchiv, Ukraine
I love what it says about Jesus in Philippians 2. The highest and most exalted individual in eternity was stripped of power, born in a manger, road in to town on a donkey, and died a criminals death for us. It says to have ‘this mind’ in us. I’m praying for that type of humility my self.
Great post Bruce. Thank you.