Humility

Preaching and Worship Resources about Humility

"A species of wisdom, humility is the glad readiness to see God as our superior and other human beings as peers, equals, fellow-travelers and, especially, as brothers and sisters for whom Jesus Christ was willing to die" (Robert C. Roberts, Spiritual Emotions, Eerdmans, 2007, pp. 78-93).

In Scripture

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14).

Wisdom Is with the Humble "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble" (Prov. 11:2).

Humility Goes Before Honor "Before destruction one's heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor" (Prov. 18:12).

What Does the Lord Require of You? "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).

Learn from Me "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:29-30).

The Greatest is a Servant "Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted" (Matt. 23:10-12).

Not Worthy "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals" (Mark 1:7).

"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

"Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are" (Rom. 12:16).

Lead a Life Worthy of the Calling "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:1-3).

Nothing from Selfish Ambition "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. . . . Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:3, 5-8).

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you" (James 4:10).

Points to Ponder

Humility in Colossians 3:12 is one of the virtues that "fits" people who have been raised with Christ. It's part of the family uniform of the followers of Christ. The supreme humility of Jesus Christ portrayed in Philippians 2 is to be imitated by his followers who have "the same mind."

Humility is not a "put-on; "it's not a ploy or device to manipulate others into doing what we want. This is the Uriah Heep syndrome in Dickens' David Copperfield. Uriah Heep understood that others like to think of themselves as one's betters, and that if one plays the role of sycophant "they'll do right by you."

Humility is not a device to fish for praise. People sometimes purposely run themselves down in order to get you to shore them up. They say "I'm so fat," or "I'm so stupid" and then they wait for you to contradict them, reassure them, brace them up with a mighty word. But none of this has anything to do with real humility.

Humility is not humiliation. Jesus Christ took on the form of a servant, not the form of a doormat. He didn't do everything people wanted him to do. Humility has little to do with cringing or groveling. Christians don't serve people well by offering them submission when what they really need is firm resistance. (Think of Winston Churchill's attitude toward Adolf Hitler.) Humility has gotten a bad name because people keep mixing it up with humiliation. Whites preach humility to blacks, men to women, the strong to the weak, and the message gets garbled in transmission. It sounds like humility but feels like humiliation.

Humility is a species of wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of God and of God's world, including our own place under God and inside God's world. Humility (from the Latin humus) means having your two feet right on the ground. The humble are wise enough not to get carried away with fantasies of God being their junior partner, or the rest of humanity being in orbit around their own shining star. They're much too down-to-earth for nonsense like that. They're grounded. They don't put on airs.

Quiet Confidence The humble person may nonetheless carry with her a quiet confidence in her own abilities and worth, but she knows these things are derived from God and is therefore much more grateful than proud. People who were around Marian Anderson, one of the 20[th] century's great contraltos, observed that she loved her own voice and did so with marvelous innocence. "God gave me this fabulous instrument," she seemed to say, "and I am so grateful because I can hear it any time I want."

Chief Objection to Sinful Pride From a Christian point of view, the chief objection to sinful pride (and its progeny, including envy, scorn, pretentiousness, pomposity, belittling of others, and so on) is that it is unrealistic, off-kilter, out-to-lunch. Other people, no matter how their sin and folly may rival our own, are nonetheless persons of great weight and dignity, people who wear God's crown of glory, people for whom Jesus Christ came to die.


Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.