Humility – The Most Precious
Of Human Character Traits
Eleven passages within the New Testament use the word “humble” or “humility.” Of these, only two show the character of humility in a negative fashion (Colossians 2:18 - 23 shows some display humility as an “outward appearance and not of sincerity to God.”) All the others show this humility as a surrendering of self to the higher glory of God; an abasement of self. One will notice this is precisely what Jesus did: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) If we Christians are to exhibit the life of Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-17), then humility must be a prominent exhibition of that life! (1 Peter 2:21; 2 Peter 1:3)
Someone wisely observed that should one “boast of his/her humility” they no longer possess it! Just as the Proverb writer declares, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) And yet, just as the negative context noted above (Colossians 2:18 – 23) hypocritical humility is sought by some but is truly no humility at all!
Braggadocious people are arrogant, selfish, immodest (for modesty requires humility) as these call attention to themselves, seeking the praises of men. The Pharisees were of such character. (John 12:43) Unfortunately, there are souls (including Christians) who continue to “make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but [remain] full of ravening and wickedness; [who demand the strictness of God’s law in even the minute things] and pass over judgment and the love of God: [which things] they ought to have done and not [left] the other undone. [They] love the uppermost seats [in the meeting house] and greetings in the marketplace, and to be called [master teacher.]” (Adapted from Luke 11: 39 – 44 and Matthew 23:7). Such displays of arrogance forbid humility, and to regain even a semblance of humility after such a display is quite difficult if not impossible!
Christians could learn much from the story of King Herod (Acts 12:20 – 25). Within the text, we learn that as Herod spoke, the people praised him saying, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Herod did nothing to squelch their praise, but instead reveled in it as if to beg for more as the writing says, “He gave not God the glory.” Because of his selfishness, immodest acceptance of attention to himself, and sheer arrogance, God smote him with worms that he died! Solomon had written, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2) Paul wrote of brethren who heap to themselves “teachers having itching ears.” (2 Timothy 4:3) While the verse speaks of the brethren, nowadays many of the teachers like to have their “egos tickled” as well! Such is so far from being humble it boggles the mind as to how such souls can get their heads down from the clouds enough to speak to the average person! (Consult Romans 12:16)
There is always someone better than you! A story is told about a man who had endured one of the world’s largest floods and through time, made his “brags” about it as if he was the “champion flood survivor.” He had been asked to relate his story to audiences great and small, both far and near. He began to consider himself something of an “authority” on floods and how to survive them, and thus increased his popularity by touting such intelligence. After several years of gloating verbiage, he came into a small area, prone to flooding, and began relating his “expertise” in such matters. When he finished, he asked if there were any questions. “Yes,” said a young lady who was offended by his arrogance. “I’d like to know if you have ever met one who has endured worse floods and survived.” The man replied, “No, but in my judgment, I have as much if not more experience in such things than anyone you could name.” She responded, “Have you ever heard of Noah?” Yes, there is always someone who has done more, done better and has a greater reputation. But are we serving God for “personal fame and glory” or for His cause?
Brethren, we must accept the fact we will never exceed Christ Jesus in anything we say or do! That is why we preach HIM and not ourselves! Further, serving Him is NOT a contest of who can do more, or better, or receive more acclaim in this time world! It is a matter of simply being HIS SERVANTS. I would suggest we each take the time to read the passages (the entire context – not just the verses!) regarding HUMILITY. Study them, learn them and apply them to your lives! Without HUMILITY, we cannot please God! Let us glory in HIM and never ourselves!
Passages within the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 4:6
2 Corinthians 4:10
1 Peter 5: 5 – 6
1 Peter 5:5
(The only passage speaking of humility in a negative sense because those desiring it do so for their own causes and not for God’s --)
Colossians 2: 18 – 23