What is Humility

What  is humility?

Humility, is an overused word in the Christian world. What does it truly mean to be humble?   Quite often when we use the word humility, what we really mean is that person needs to learn humility like I am doing. Therefore, to use the word humility is to not be humble because it is a comparative, performance based kind of humility.  Humility, I believe comes from looking at the Gospel of Grace and the cross on a daily basis.

Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and grace on the cross as well as a deep understanding of our sinfulness.  That’s the twin reality that all genuine humility is rooted in: God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Without an honest awareness of both these realities…, all self-evaluation will be skewed and we’ll fail to either understand or practice true humility. We’ll miss out on experiencing the promise and the pleasures that humility offers. – C.J. Mahaney (from Humility – True Greatness page 21-22) Humility can only come from a deep understanding of God’s purpose of the gospel in the lives of men.

To have an awareness of how easily a Christian can not be humble I recommend looking at the parable of the prodigal son and the elder brother. The elder brother you can oversimplify and say he just was not humble but, I believe, the elder brother had very specific kind of pride that the parable is poking at. The elder brother had the religious pride of the pharisees which I believe is common to have.  The elder brother, unlike the younger brother which was doing everything his way,  was actually being fastidiously good as he “hung” around the fathers house.   His sin in his “goodness” was religious pride.

Lets read more on humility.

  • Matthew 23:12
    For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
    Matthew 23:11-13 (in Context) Matthew 23 (Whole Chapter)
  • Luke 1:48
    for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    Luke 1:47-49 (in Context) Luke 1 (Whole Chapter)
  • Luke 1:52
    He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
    Luke 1:51-53 (in Context) Luke 1 (Whole Chapter)
  • Luke 14:11
    For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    Luke 14:10-12 (in Context) Luke 14 (Whole Chapter)
  • Luke 18:14
    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    Luke 18:13-15 (in Context) Luke 18 (Whole Chapter)
  • Acts 20:19
    I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.
    Acts 20:18-20 (in Context) Acts 20 (Whole Chapter)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21
    I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
    2 Corinthians 12:20-21 (in Context) 2 Corinthians 12 (Whole Chapter)
  • Ephesians 4:2
    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
    Ephesians 4:1-3 (in Context) Ephesians 4 (Whole Chapter)
  • Philippians 2:1
    [ Imitating Christ’s Humility ] If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
    Philippians 2:1-3 (in Context) Philippians 2 (Whole Chapter)
  • Philippians 2:3
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
    Philippians 2:2-4 (in Context) Philippians 2 (Whole Chapter)
  • Philippians 2:8
    And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
    Philippians 2:7-9 (in Context) Philippians 2 (Whole Chapter)
  • Colossians 2:18
    Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.
    Colossians 2:17-19 (in Context) Colossians 2 (Whole Chapter)
  • Colossians 2:23
    Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
    Colossians 2:22-23 (in Context) Colossians 2 (Whole Chapter)
  • Colossians 3:12
    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
    Colossians 3:11-13 (in Context) Colossians 3 (Whole Chapter)
  • Titus 3:2
    to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
    Titus 3:1-3 (in Context) Titus 3 (Whole Chapter)
  • James 1:9
    The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
    James 1:8-10 (in Context) James 1 (Whole Chapter)
  • James 3:13
    [ Two Kinds of Wisdom ] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
    James 3:12-14 (in Context) James 3 (Whole Chapter)
  • James 4:6
    But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
    James 4:5-7 (in Context) James 4 (Whole Chapter)
  • James 4:10
    Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
    James 4:9-11 (in Context) James 4 (Whole Chapter)
  • 1 Peter 3:8
    [ Suffering for Doing Good ] Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
    1 Peter 3:7-9 (in Context) 1 Peter 3 (Whole Chapter)
  • 1 Peter 5:5
    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.”
    1 Peter 5:4-6 (in Context) 1 Peter 5 (Whole Chapter)
  • 1 Peter 5:6
    Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

3 thoughts on “What is Humility

  1. Bill H

    One of my college professors recently gave me an excellent definition of humility: “Humility is knowing our strengths and weaknesses, and not being ashamed of either.”

    I suppose this could mean that if we can accept and talk about our weaknesses, e.g., “I can be rather harsh and abrupt with people at times, particularly when I percieve them as incompetent; I have a short fuse; I get impatient too easily; I am an angry person, we shoud be able to accept and talk about our strengths, e.g., “I know what I am doing and am really good at what I do; I have an oversupply of compassion,” and not be concerned about being characterised as “prideful and arrogant.”

  2. centralityofthegospel Post author

    I like that definition.

    I have come to the conclusion that I have to bear with religious, self righteusss sinners and to live in understanding of their sin rather than judge so harshly.



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