The more I study humility

  • the more I realize how far I need to go to be a truly humble person.
  • the more I understand why pride is considered the “chief” of all sins.
  • the more I realize that Jesus is the perfect and complete embodiment of what “true humility” looks like.
  • the more humbled I am at my own pride.

In a recent article in Christianity Today, Gordon MacDonald wrote about the biography of Samuel Logan Brengle, a commissioner in the Salvation Army. In the article MacDonald writes…

“If Brengle lived today, I wonder how he would have coped with the celebrity status that often adorns gifted communicators and clever authors who are packaged by marketing, development and publicity strategies. Toward the end of his ministry, Brengle wrote:

“If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that He uses me that it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodman. He made it; he sharpened it; and he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. O that I may never lose sight of this.”

And then MacDonald goes on to write: “Brengle’s view of himself (humility comes to mind) as God’s servant might not make it in the celebrity-driven venues today. But I believe that we could use a dose of his humble spirituality in our contemporary Christian world.”

One of the most helpful tools that I have come across that helps to clearly distinguish between Proud, Unbroken People and Humble, Broken People is a list that Nancy Leigh DeMoss (from her book Brokenness: The Heart God Revives) put together from her study of Scripture and her experience in both life and ministry.

There are dozens of items on both the “Proud” side and the “Humble” side. Today I want to share with you just six of them. Here they are:

Have you ever noticed the link between “wisdom” and “humility?” In James 3:13 it says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Has it ever occurred to you the way that Jesus described himself in Matthew 11:28-30? It’s the famous passage we love to quote, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden…” But did you ever notice what Jesus says in the next verse? “…for I am gentle and humble in heart. The very Son of God, who flung the stars into space (Colossians 1) and created everything there is, modeled for us what “humble in heart” looks like.

Max Anders, in his book The Good Life, clarifies some common misconceptions about humility:

“Humility does not mean you must see yourself as a pitiful excuse, a lowlife, a piece of refuse at the bottom of the human pile.

“Rather, it means you see yourself as God sees you: you have infinite and inherent value (given by God), but no more value than anyone else. It means being willing to accept God as the authority over your life, rather than insisting on being your own supreme authority. And since you accept God as the supreme authority over your life, and because you are of equal value but no greater value than everyone else, you are willing to order your life in such a way as to be a servant to others.

“When Christians do this, we meet each other’s needs in a context of harmony and love. When we fail to subordinate ourselves to others and are concerned only with meeting our own needs, we live a life of individualism and isolation — a state in which the Christian cannot be satisfied. We are not created to be loners. We are part of a family!”

Humility is one of those strange characteristics, in that when you know you have it — you’ve lost it! It is one of those virtues to be highly sought after but never claimed; because once you’ve claimed it — it’s forfeited!

I leave you this week with these very profound, but very sobering verses on humility:

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:1-2, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility…”

Jesus said in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:5, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth!” (Numbers 12:3)

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)