To be humble, I must submit to God’s authority.
How can I be humble when the culture around me molds me to be confident and self-sufficient? To be humble, I must recognize that I am under the authority of another. First and foremost, I am under God’s authority. It is impossible to be humble if a person believes they are the ultimate authority in their lives. Humility only comes from living under God’s sovereignty in dependence on Him. In other words, humility recognizes my need for God.
Such is the confidence we have through Christ before God. It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.2 Corinthians 3:4–5 CSB
I need God to live with humility.
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.Ephesians 4:1–2 ESV
God calls His children to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. But what is our calling? Our calling is to be Christ-like. Therefore, we are to be imitators of Jesus. Consequently, I must submit to His example and His authority if I will fulfill my calling.
Consider taking up the challenge to read through your Bible while focusing on humility. As you read, complete the sentence “I need God to . . .” God’s Word teaches us how to live in dependence on Him because He is the Supreme authority.
I need God to be successful.
But do you tend to defend, promote, or preserve yourself? Do you strive to be seen in the best possible light? Or do you always want to be right and viewed as successful? That is to say, the extent to which you engage in promoting yourself is evidence that you are lacking in humility.
Please, excuse my sin.
When confronted with sin, the human condition seeks to respond by excusing the issue of sin or explaining the episode surrounding the evil, all to escape any exposure to sin. Selfish ambition and vain conceit are pervasive in our regular course of life, creating a heart condition where humility is a rarity. Humility as a construct has been so marred by self-centered intent that its meaning within our culture is obscure.
To prove this point, ask anyone to define humility. The response you may anticipate will be a very blank look followed by a random attempt to provide an answer. Most of the solutions will be from previously heard sermons articulated without personal experience with what is being tendered. The reality will become evident that humility is not a part of our social norm.
I’m sure I’m right.
Christians today often substitute humility for a pretense of being right. Even when it is evident that a person is wrong, the modern-day Christian seeks to promote themselves while posturing to look righteous within the conflict. Therefore we eliminate the need to be humble and instead choose to be confident in our assertions. Such a demeanor would demonstrate how far we have strayed from the true meaning of humility.
There is a chasm between our theology and how we treat others, between our doctrinal faith and our deployment of our faith, and between our position in Christ and our practice of Christianity. To appreciate this expanse, consider that anything not done in love is performed through selfish ambition. Read the Sermon on the Mount to understand this point more relevantly (Matthew 5:1–7:29). Here you will be shown by Christ the nature of the issue. Consider the Beatitudes as a sample.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:Matthew 5:2–11 ESV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.“
I need God’s empowerment.
One who possesses the virtue of humility discerns that they bring nothing to God to increase Him. Additionally, they know that they add nothing to God to enhance Him. Therefore, bringing nothing to God nor adding anything to God. The humble of heart grasp that they stand before God only by the love of His redeeming grace. Humility leads the broken to understand that only by divine enablement can personal empowerment be embraced.
Arrogance and pride resist submitting to any authority. In actuality, pride asserts that I am my own authority. Like Lucifer, too many strive to be like the Most High.
You said to yourself,Isaiah 14:13–14 CSB
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will set up my throne
above the stars of God.
I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly,
in the remotest parts of the North.
I will ascend above the highest clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Humility is not about me.
You may have heard the quote, “Humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but it is thinking of yourself less.” But C. S. Lewis reminds us in Mere Christianity (page 127) that a truly humble person “will not be thinking about humility: he is not thinking about himself at all.” All of life is to be about God and His glory. Nothing should be about me.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 CSB
Humility is all about God and submitting to His authority. Humility is not about me, neither what I am nor what I am not. The two polar extremes that block dependency on Jesus are “I am not good enough” and “I am good enough.” The reality is that it is not about us—whether we are or are not good enough. All of life should be about Christ and what He has accomplished.
While bringing honor, praise, and exaltation to self, pride asserts with a pious tone, “I want to do great things for God, or I want God to do great things through me.” Pride misses the point entirely for being emerged in the pursuit of greatness—only God is great, and apart from His enabling grace and the perfecting work of Jesus Christ, we are incapable of industry for God.
Industry, compelled by our intimacy with God, prompts us within our service to glorify God, edify God’s people, and solidify God’s will on earth. Therefore, there is no room for self to glory in what self has done. Nor should I bask in the accomplishments that validate me to feel significant and secure. Humility proclaims that the self has nothing to contribute.
I can only be humble under God’s authority.
As can be seen, I need God to direct my life in every area of my life. Moreover, I am incapable of measuring up to God’s standards in and of myself. And because God created and designed me, He is the only One who knows how to best live within this world. To be humble, I must find my confidence in Him alone. God alone provides everything that I need for life and godliness. Therefore, I humble myself before Him.
So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.Colossians 2:10 NLT
- How do I define humility?
- When do I try to defend, promote, or preserve myself?
- What do I need from God?
Be Humble is step number 7 in the 10 Steps to Spiritual Maturity.
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Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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