A Series on Humility
Coming to Christ first requires humility: we must acknowledge our need for someone else to save us. But then, each virtue of righteousness, all of the characteristics of a godly life require increasingly greater humility. A problem presents itself, however, for it seems the more we try to be humble, the more prideful we become. What we seek is a humble, servant mindset which Jesus demostrated so poignantly.
“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”
My assertion is that absolute dependence on God is the only means to successfully obtain any degree of humility. Focusing on Christ: the paragon of all heavenly virtue, self is progressively swallowed up by His glory as we become one with Him. By comparing ourselves vertically to God, we depart from the horizontal and skewed comparison of ourselves to each other, opening a clear view to our personal inadequacies—our need for continuing grace.
I’ve discovered a hazardous pitfall in my own walk—one that’s difficult to detect. It’s called false humility. Something I’d done in te past , which, I thought was making me humble, was self-deprecation. I’d put myself down, or launch a bad spin on my actions, talking about the bad stuff I’ve done. But it only produces a false humility—not at all conducive to eliminating a hunger to be noted. While I thought it would be destructive to my pride, it only fed my ego. If we’re honest, we’ll see it’s the same for all of us. I’ve been doing a deep dive on the subject, and found that nearly every great thinker down through history has percieved the importance of this trait and written on the topic of humility.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”
“A great man is always willing to be little.”
Ralph Emerson Palmer
Bryant H. McGill is more stoic, stating “True love is quiescent, except in the nascent moments of true humility”
Only by emulating the love of God do we transform into humble servants, which in turn elevates our eternal ranking.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1st Peter 5:6
The assorted virtues of Christ-likeness expounded by Jesus in His great manifesto on the mount are all rooted in, and dependent upon a prior condition of humility. Assuming we all agree that the antithesis of humility is pride, we can easily recognize pride to be the primary, or root sin which so deceives mankind in its many forms. Pride hinders our growth in Christ-likeness.
It’s the #1 sin—not merely the first sin perpetrated chronologically, but also the sin which underlies all others. Pride and humility can never coexist in the same arena, that’s why Satan promotes pride in mankind. He knows it to be the root from which springs every form of ungodliness.
“Let us carry ourselves as God’s children in humility. ‘Be ye clothed with humility’ (1 Peter 5:5). It is a becoming garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the glass of God’s Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He suffers them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes may fall, and that they may learn to go on lower ground.” Puritan, Thomas Watson
Each week I hope to spotlight one heavenly virtue from Matthew 5: 3-10, demonstrating how every righteous trait flows from, and is anchored in, humility.
This is one trait that appears to act as a huingepin for developing the godly traits Jesus talks about.
Since humility is the condition of heart and mind every soul must possess, if they hope to approach God and be reconciled to Him through trusting faith, learning to lean on this virtue becomes paramount.
In chronicling the characteristics of citizens of God’s kingdom, Jesus seems to demand we presuppose humility as a type of key to all of them. Certainly, if I am to become “poor in spirit” I must first humble myself. Note how essential humility is in becoming what Christ calls us to be.
It will be fruitful for us to disseminate the precondition of humility that’s common to each of the virtues Christ provides. I’ll do so by first defining each characteristic Jesus extols, then by considering examples in the context of current culture, and finally view the whole matter in relationship to ourselves as individuals—making personal application to our hearts.
Bring your bibles and join us for the next post as we look at the first virtue found in Matthew 5:3. Please click on notifications and watch for “Poor in Spirit.”