Humility is defined as modesty; the opposite of pride and arrogance. If you feel you’ve mastered this virtue, then that probably proves you haven’t. Scripture teaches the necessity of humility time and again (Matt 18:4; 20:26-28; Col 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). It is described as “required” of us by God (Micah 6:8), and it is the prerequisite before we receive any honor from the Lord (Prov 15:13). Surely when we begin to follow Christ, we have to humble ourselves and admit that God is greater than us, and is the only one with the power to forgive our sins. So, if humility is so important, how can we grow in humility?
It can be helpful to examine the life of Christ. A great passage that really exemplifies Jesus Christ’s humility is Phil 2:5-8:
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
As you read this passage, notice the steady progression that Jesus takes, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Jesus is God, but takes on the nature of a servant. He then becomes an earthly human, then actually experiences death, and not a normal death, but a crucifixion. There are so many opportunities for Christ to say “Enough! I’m better than this. I refuse to drop down that low,” but he never does. Jesus teaches us that humility often entails setting aside power for the benefit of others.
Another way to grow in humility is to be mindful of God’s discipline and embrace it as a loving act. God humbled the nation of Israel out of love (Deut 8:3-5) so that they might rely on the Lord more. The right strategy is to turn to the Lord during those times of humbling, rather than blaming Him or growing angry.
Finally, a definition of humility by Andrew Murray:
“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary’s cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit.”
- Find a Christian mentor and humbly ask him or her to share wisdom and insights with you, and teach you spiritual truths from Scripture. Choose someone who is growing in Christ-likeness, and pray diligently before approaching that person.
- During your daily prayer time, always begin your prayers with acknowledgment and adoration for who God is and what He has done in your life. You can follow this simple prayer format: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS). This will help get you in a humble state of mind when praying.
- Practice receiving criticisms, personal attacks and other challenges as opportunities for humbling. Trust God to raise you up according to His timing.
Humility by Andrew Murray
Humility by C. J. Mahaney
Descending into Greatness by Bill Hybels
Humility Study Notes