What is true humility? How can we become more Christ-like and therefore more humble?
Oftentimes, we in the church emphasize what a person can do more than what a person should be. Molding Christ-like character is the most important element in a person’s life that determines the trajectory of their talents and influence.
“Man’s character is his fate” (Heraclitus).
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
One of the most important aspects of godly character is humility. I have never heard a single message on this topic. Yet, God emphasizes it more than any other character trait in the Scriptures, except love. It is the most underrated trait but perhaps the greatest indicator of how far a person will go in life.
“We set young leaders up for a fall when we encourage them to envision what they can do before they consider the kind of person they should be” (Ruth Barton).
Humility is so important that even God takes note when someone walks in it (read Numbers 12:3).
1. What Humility Is
A. Humility has to do with viewing yourself in the proper manner regarding your gifts, abilities, purpose, weaknesses and limitations. The degree of humility is based upon how a person responds to failure, power, and obedience to God.
B. Abraham Lincoln said “Nearly all men can handle adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
2. What Humility Is Not
A. It is not self-deprecation or putting oneself down, treating yourself badly, the ascetic denial of self, self-mortification, discipline, self-pity, self-hatred, poverty, wearing shoddy clothing, low self-esteem, or acting legalistic with religious tradition.
3. How Humility Comes
A. True humility comes out of a healthy Christ-centeredness from within the heart of a person that breeds self-dignity, self-respect, and assurance of your place as a child of God and your call in the kingdom of God (John 3:30). It is the result of a person responding to God and the realities of life with wisdom from the experiences of life.
B. We are commanded to humble ourselves (1 Peter 5:5-6). If we do not humble/judge ourselves then God will humble us (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
4. The Symptoms of Humility
A. Teachable spirit; easy to approach (Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 15:33).
B. Brokenness: When self-will has been broken to allow the life of the Spirit to live through us (John 12:24).
C. Authenticity or realness. Humble people do not try to be something they are not.
D. Faith: True humility comes from a deep self-awareness and deep relationship with God.
E. Gratefulness to God for every day and for all His blessings.
F. You easily forgive, because you appreciate what Christ did for you as a sinner.
G. Not quick to judge others.
5. The Power of Humility
A. Jesus told us in Luke 14:8-11 that it is the way of promotion.
B. Humility and losing ourselves unto Him are the keys to bearing much fruit (John 12:24-25; John 3:30).
6. Pride as the Opposite of Humility
A. Pride: Involves thinking higher of yourself than you ought to think (Romans 12:3). This is in regards to thinking you are better than others, or thinking that you are always right.
B. Symptoms of pride include:
- Stubbornness, rebellion (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
- Unwillingness to receive correction; defensiveness (Prov. 1:29-32; Proverbs 29:1)
- Being argumentative and contentious (Proverbs 13:10)
- Prayerlessness and lack of seeking after God (Psalm 10:4).
v. Bragging about yourself and your accomplishments (Proverbs 17:19; 25:27; 27:2)
- Living a vain lifestyle regarding keeping up a certain appearance for show
- Not willing to serve in menial tasks. Jesus was a foot washer; Nehemiah a cup bearer; Paul a tentmaker; Moses a shepherd; David a harp player for Saul; Elisha put Elijah’s hands in cold water; Joshua a servant of Moses
- Always talking more than listening when people speak; always attempting to finish other people’s sentences
C. Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
D. God personally resists the proud (James 4:6; Leviticus 26:23-24).
E. Pride eventually brings shame (Proverbs 11:2; 29:23).
7. The Blessings that Follow Humble People
A. God gives them grace (Proverbs 3:34).
B. God gives them the kingdom (Matthew 5:3).
C. They inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5) because with humility comes wisdom, good relationships, and authenticity; more doors can open for you to reach your potential.
D. God dwells with them (Isaiah 57:15).
E. God fights for them and defends them (Numbers 12:1-8).
8. Jesus, the Example of Humility
A. Philippians 2:4-12: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
B. Jesus made Himself of no reputation; He did not show off or come to earth with all His power and glory.
C. He came as a servant to those He created.
D. He humbled Himself to the point of death.
E. God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above all other names. This shows that, to the degree we humble ourselves, to that degree can God exalt us and trust us with power and influence.