Although humility can be defined as the absence of pride, there is more involved. Doug Britton writes, “God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. You know that in your flesh you are inadequate, yet you also know who you are in Christ.” We walk humbly in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength.
Rick Warren has said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” God created us for a purpose. He believes that we are able to fulfill His plans. We must not humiliate ourselves by lowering God’s expectations of us.
Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” Humility is a virtue. Pride is not so virtuous.
I like the promise of Psalm 149:4, “the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”
Mary, the mother Jesus, and Jesus are two examples of strong, yet humble, individuals.
46And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
52“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
Luke 1:46-48, 52
Mary was a humble young woman. She humbly responded to the angel’s message when she was told that she would become the Messiah’s mother. She exalts the Lord rather than herself in verse 46. In verse 48, she describes herself as God’s bondslave. Verse 52 notes a contrast between humility and pride. God chose Mary to be the mother of His Son because He knew she would responsibly fulfill this role. A woman full of pride would not have had room for Jesus in her heart.
Look again at the second part of verse 48. When Mary proclaimed she would be considered blessed, some might think she was being prideful. However, I like a comment made in the Life Application Bible. “If Mary had refused her incredible position, she would have been throwing God’s blessing back at Him. Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done. Don’t deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts.” This is a good admonition for us today.
Proverbs 3:34 GNT says, “He (God) has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.” Mary found favor with God. Humility is the antithesis of pride. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
6who, being in very nature God, did not consider
equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature
of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in the appearance of a man, he humbled
himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
These verses describe Jesus’ mindset while living on earth. He could have been prideful as the son of God. However, according to verse 6, He put aside His nature as God when He came in human likeness. Mary described herself as a bondslave. Jesus took on the nature of a bondslave in verse 7. In verse 8, He was humble and obedient when dying on the cross. Through His attitude and actions, He fulfilled God’s purpose. Mary was humbled to give birth. Jesus was humbled to die.
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus tells us, “…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” We learn humility when we follow Jesus’ example.
In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” If we are humble, we will not be selfish. We will compassionately care about others. Romans 12:3 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.”
Proverbs 11:2 says, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Another scripture to consider is Luke 14:11, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Godly humility is being comfortable with who we are in Christ. When we are humble, we realize we need God’s help. I Peter 5:5 exhorts us, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humility is a valuable virtue.