Every time I think on the subject of humility, I hear the words of a popular hymn derived from James 4:10, which says, “humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up”. I have known this song and scripture for most of my childhood, however, having a deeper understanding of its true meaning and receiving revelation on humility has taken me years. It is in this regard I believe revelation is required in order for us to take the correct steps in walking in the fullness of what God says to us.
In this article, I’d like for us to walk away with an understanding of what humility is and what it is not, in light of certain slight misconceptions around the two.
Let’s start by looking at the definition of Humility, the Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness, and absence of self. The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind.” Not only is humility an outward act but it is a heart condition – an inward working that requires the Holy Spirit.
Humility is of paramount importance to the believer as scripture says in James 4: 6-7 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” In proportion to our humility will we be given grace, moreover in reality, a man can do nothing without the grace granted him by God. Grace cannot be attained without humility therefore we need to cloak ourselves with humility as Apostle Peter admonishes in 1 Peter 5:5 “Clothe yourselves all of you with Humility”
Not only is humility important in obtaining grace but the scripture further says God opposes the proud. When you look at the word "opposes" you come to realize that it means to fight against or to thwart or to disapprove and it was this that rendered the devil forever accursed. A spiritual law from Matthew 23:12 that says “whoever exalts himself shall be humbled” came into effect the moment satan tried to exalt himself above God.
We see many accounts of various characters in scripture that fell into the error of walking in pride and they became puffed up and scripture is very particular about this behavior and the results thereof, the book of proverbs 16:18 outlines that “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”
King Nebuchadnezzar, in the Book of Daniel, “was driven from men and did eat grass as oxen” - Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God for boasting about his achievements, he then lost his sanity, and lived like an animal for seven years. Another account is of Pharaoh, scripture says He arrogantly replied to Moses after he was told what God wanted in Exodus 5:2 “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go." Through devastating plagues, the Lord broke Pharaoh’s stubborn pride — but only after terrible misery and loss.
Jesus taught about how we should follow after humility in Luke 14:8 -11 saying “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
Jesus further says we should learn from him, He is our greatest example and we should take after his demonstration when it comes to walking in humility, we read this in Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
What humility is not:
Humility is not downplaying our gifts, talents, and graces, doing so is to refuse the goodness of God upon our lives, what is contrary to humility is to take credit for ourselves for what we have received from God.
Humility is not self-depreciation in the sense of running ourselves down before others; this is a cloak of pride and sometimes a soliciting of praise from other people.
Altogether, there needs to be a balance and a healthy heart condition in humility, when this is settled humility will convey itself in the way we act. I will conclude with the words of C.S Lewis, to sum up, the above he explains Humility simply by saying,
“Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less”. - C.S Lewis
May the Lord grant us understanding.
Shalom: Kay King