64. Embracing Humility

by Jun 10, 20242024

Humble Pie! Have you ever had a slice? Be honest, did you enjoy it? Would you like more? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t enjoy the experience of being humbled. It can be embarrassing and erode your confidence. It can even cause you to shamefully withdraw from friends and family. I believe two significant reasons we dislike being humbled are due to finding out that, in some way, we’re proven wrong about something, or a personal inadequacy is exposed to ourselves and, perhaps, to others. When we react in the ways just described, we show our lack of humility.

For those who have no interest in being a follower of Christ, this is a non-issue. Humility is not a character trait that is desirable or valued. In fact, humility is often considered a weakness. Western societies reward materialism, competitiveness, and self-promotion, not self-awareness and honest circumspection. We witness this almost every day in the various spheres of human activity.

As an example, when was the last time you heard a politician admit to a mistake and fully own it? Surely, such would be the death knell to any political career, as adversaries would attack this honest admission as a wolf attacks its wounded prey. Thus, for many, humility is thought to be a detriment to personal success and achievement.

But if we have surrendered our life to Christ, we won’t need to promote or position ourselves in ways that make us appear to be in control and the masters of our destiny. Just as Jesus Himself did, we can trust God for all the outcomes in our lives, including those that seem undesirable. “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8, NLT).

Before we continue, let’s understand what humility truly is. Humility is not self-belittling or shaming. It’s not about thinking badly of yourself. In fact, truly humble people will have the healthiest, and most meaningful view of themselves. This is because living in a truly humble manner is the most honest and hopeful way to live. In the book of Romans, we find a wonderful description of how to live in humility. “. . . Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves . . . “ (Romans 12:3, NLT). We see here that to live humbly is to live honestly and realistically. Living like this gives you a perspective that enables you to be the person God intended you to be. When we humble ourselves by honestly acknowledging and accepting who we really are, and what is our true condition, we open the door to a life of joy and hope in Christ Jesus. For, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5, NLT). Professor Dallas Willard said this about humility, “Humility is the beautiful condition of people who have learned to surrender their desires, their glory, and their power to God.”

If you want to live a life free from the burden of pretense and the tyranny of having to live up to others’ expectations, humility is the path forward. Humility and freedom go hand-in-hand. Only a humble person can be truly free; free from pretending, free from impressing, and free to live an honest and meaningful life of connection to others and acceptance of themselves.

Not only is humility the key to a life of liberty and authenticity, but it is at the root of our walk with God. The Old Testament prophet Micah makes this clear, “Should we offer him (God) thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:7-8, NLT). In Psalm 25 David expands on the importance of walking humbly with God, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm. 25:8-9, ESV). Humility, living honestly and dependently before God, is central to our relationship with him.

Although it may not be easy, living life humbly is the best life available to us. “True humility and the fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life” (Proverbs 22:4, NLT). Andrew Murray, a South African writer, teacher, and pastor, describes how central and important humility is to God sending His Son, and for our redemption.

“The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so, pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil.”

Murray is suggesting that Jesus came, died, and rose again for the purpose of restoring humility to his creatures, a humility that allows us to see our real need of forgiveness and restoration, and which enables us to surrender ourselves to Him completely. Hence, it follows that nothing can be our redemption, but the restoration of the lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God. And so, Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us.

When we come to, and follow Jesus, we are approaching the humblest person who ever lived. Jesus invited us to come to Him with our burdens and heavy concerns. He promised us a light burden and an easy yoke as we learn from Him, for He said, “I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:28-30). The Greek word translated ‘humble” in this verse means ‘lowly’. What He is saying is that He has placed His needs and desires beneath those of everyone else. The Son of God, creator of heaven and earth, viewed Himself as a servant to all, the lowest of the low. And by doing this, God highly exalted Him above every name that can be named. But this powerful result came only after He humbled Himself, serving those He created, to the point of death on a cross.

“In heaven He humbled Himself to become man. The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, He brought it, from there. Here on earth He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death; His humility gave his death its value, and so became our redemption. And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit, His own humility, as the ground and root of His relation to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.”  Andrew Murray

How might the world around you be impacted if, as a follower of Jesus, you began to more fully and completely live with a heart of humility (lowliness, meekness)?