Our Cultural Shift
If I were to boil down all the characteristics of greatness to a single word, it would be humility. – Charles R. Swindoll
We live in a time where competing, succeeding, and winning the applause of others becomes everything. They teach us to promote and glorify ourselves as we compete in the marketplace. No one encourages us to be humble. There is a shift in our culture. A shift from a culture that was once humble and grateful to a culture of arrogance and self-promotion. We now encourage people to see themselves as “the center of the universe.”
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
In God’s Culture It’s All about Character
One of the most important aspects of godly character is humility. God emphasizes it more than any other character trait in the Bible, except love. It is the most underrated trait, but perhaps the greatest indicator of how far a person will go in life. Humility is a kingdom characteristic that is the opposite of pride. Pride is a demonic characteristic. We have taken on and encourage pride now. Often, we emphasize what a person can do more than what a person should be. Molding Christ-like character is the most important element in a person’s life. Character, not just skill, determines the trajectory of your talents and influence. Gifts open the door, but character keeps you in the room.
“Man’s character is his fate” (Heraclitus).
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – Anonymous
“We set young leaders up for a fall when we encourage them to envision what they can do before they consider the kind of person they should be” (Ruth Barton).
Humility Is Not
Humility is not weakness, quietness, self deprecation, self denial, personality type, poverty, or acting humble.
Humility is seeking God’s mindset and his view of life. Humility is recognition that we have strengths and gifts, but that the source comes from God.
Strength and Confidence
Oh, Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble. You will strengthen their heart. You will incline Your ear (Psalm 10:17).
“The humble are kind and gentle, but also brave and fearless. If you are to be humble, you cannot have one without the other.” – Tim Keller
It is natural to be skeptical when you hear the phrase: “The power of a humble life”. But you see this attitude of humility in a number of the great leaders in the Bible.
John the Baptist is a great example. When John’s disciples complained that all the people were leaving him to follow Jesus, John clarified Jesus must increase and that he must decrease. This is humility. Yet, John courageously confronted King Herod about how corrupt he was to take Herodias, his brother’s wife, to be his own unlawful wife. It landed him in jail and eventually cost him his life.
Apostle Paul considered himself to be the chief of all sinners and openly shared his struggles, yet boldly went into the streets of Athens and Rome to proclaim the gospel.
We learn Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth in Numbers 12:3. Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. Yet we see Moses go before the most powerful man on earth at the time—Pharaoh, king of Egypt. The Pharaoh could have easily had him killed. Moses boldly stood before Pharaoh and said to him, “I want you to let my people go. I want you to give up your entire slave labor force, the key to your entire economic and military superiority. I want you to do it without payment. And I don’t want you to mess around. I want you to do it quickly.”
We find strength in the humble life. The humble don’t decide by sticking their fingers in the air to see what other people think. They enjoy a fortitude and an inner strength that come only through God’s grace. They know who they are. Their lives are not lived by trying to please and impress others.
God Dwells With You
For this is what the high and lofty One says–he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15
Proverbs 3:34 (NIV 1984) He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.
The most common definition used in the Bible is the unmerited favor of God, which applies to salvation. But in the New Testament, the word “grace” is most commonly applied to living this life with God’s power—a divine enablement. Through grace, God enables us to do that which we cannot do ourselves (Hebrews 13:9; 2 Timothy 2:1). Grace is incredibly significant. God gives His strength and power only to the humble through grace. Under no other circumstances does He ever promise to give His grace—only to the humble. This is a very significant promise. Grace is a word that is often misunderstood and literally means receiving God’s favor.
Jesus told us that humility is the way of promotion.
Luke 14:11 (NIV 1984) For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Napoleon Bonaparte at the end of his life, describing the differences between Jesus and himself saud: “I die before my time and my body shall be given back to the earth and devoured by worms. What an abysmal gulf between my deep miseries and the eternal Kingdom of Christ. I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself and of Alexander and of Caesar should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant—Jesus—should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.”
Any serious student of history has to scratch his head and wonder how a small band of Christians could survive and even thrive in the ancient Roman world that was bound and determined to eradicate the Christian faith. Humility leads to influence and power!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 (NLT)
As you are on your journey, the reason humility produces wisdom is because of 2 reasons:
1. You pursue knowledge. You know you haven’t arrived.
2. You respond to correction well. This has got to be one of the ultimate tests of how much pride is in your life. If I come up to you and correct you, how do you respond?
People Like Being Around You
“Arrogance is a disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it” Bob Yandian.
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”” Matthew 19:26
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22
Humility produces strength, enabling you to do great things because you have learned to flow with the strength of God.
Humility Comes How?
“For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted”. Luke 14:11
We are commanded to humble ourselves. This is a visible, audible, thanks to God for what is going on. Don’t promote yourself. Humility is seeking godly character and not trying to promote ourselves. Humility is seeing how empty self promotion is. Humility is letting God get glory and not taking it ourselves. It is an attitude that you have to develop. God does not give us humility.
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:5-6
Deal With Pride
Enemy of humility is pride. James 4:6, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Why is pride so bad? Dictionary definition of pride / arrogance: A “feeling” of self-sufficiency, a “feeling” that you don’t need anyone else, especially God.
Pride means thinking higher of yourself than you ought to think. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3
Be Intentionally Grateful
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalms 100:4
If you are truly going to cultivate a grateful heart, you are going to have to be intentional about it. It is something you have to plan to do every day. Spend a few minutes every day giving thanks to God. Start by acknowledging all that you are and all that you have is a gift from Him. Thank Him for the gift of life and for a new day. Thank him for your health. Thank him for your spouse and your life together. Thank him for your children. Thank him for the other relationships he has blessed you with. Thank him for your home and the financial resources he has provided you. Thank him for the work he has called you to do and also for the talents and abilities he has blessed you with. Give thanks for all the spiritual blessings in your life. You could end by thanking Him for the incredible difference he has made in your life. Where would you be without him?
You are humble when you obey Him. You are not humble when you follow your voice. We base humility upon how a person responds to God’s voice – their obedience to Him. It’s easy to obey when God asks you to do what you want. It’s hard to obey when He asks you to do what you don’t want. It’s easy to obey when God asks you to do what you want through an authority figure. It’s hard to obey when an authority figure asks you to do something you don’t want to do. Take up our cross and put ourselves on it daily–crucifying our flesh.
In closing, go and humble yourself! You will be glad you did.