Our humility is an important aspect of our character as far as God is concerned. The verses relating to humility are well known to all Christians, such as James 4:6 which says that “God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”
God sets humility apart and opposes it to pride, of which James 4:6 is also a great example; for God resists pride while gracing humility.
The Book of Proverbs is a book of timeless and eternal truths and words of knowledge for mankind, compiled by Solomon and others:
Proverbs 6:3 “My son, do this now, and deliver yourself when you have come into the hand of your friend; go, humble yourself and make your friend sure.”
Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of Jehovah is the instruction of wisdom, and before honour is humility.”
Proverbs 16:19 “It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Proverbs 18:12 “Before shattering, the heart of man is proud, and before honour is humility.”
Proverbs 18:23 “The poor speaks humble requests, but the rich answers roughly.”
Proverbs 22:4 “By humility and the fear of Jehovah are riches and honour and life.”
Proverbs 29:23 “A man’s pride shall bring him low; but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
We can see clearly from Proverbs that humility, as a human characteristic, is highly thought of; it is to be prized; it is to be sought after. It is to be achieved first, such that other blessings and honours may follow.
Throughout the bible, God cofirms to us the considerable advantages which humility holds for us:
Deuteronomy 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which Jehovah your God led you these forty years in the wilderness in order to humble you, to prove you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
Psalm 34:2 “My soul shall make its boast in Jehovah; the humble shall hear and be glad.”
Matthew 18:4 “Therefore whoever shall humble himself like this little child, this one is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Matthew 23:12 “And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
James 4:6 “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”
We can see that humility before God, can change our future for us:
Second Chronicles 12:12a “And when he humbled himself, the wrath of Jehovah turned from him so that He would not destroy him altogether.”
Second Chronicles 34:27 “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before your God when you heard His words against this place and against its people, and humbled yourself before Me, and tore your garments and wept before Me, I have even heard also, says Jehovah.”
Finally, any review of the Bible texts in which humility is mentioned, reveals that God demands humility from us. His wording in these and other verses is imperative, direct and demanding:
Leviticus 23:32a “It shall be to you a Sabbath of rest, and you shall humble your souls.”
First Peter 5:5b,6 “Put on humility. For God resists proud ones, but He gives grace to the humble…. Therefore be humbled under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time.”
James 1:9 “But let the humble brother rejoice in his exaltation.”
James 4:10 “Be humbled before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
As born-again Christians, we need to take humility seriously, for it is absolutely certain, that God takes our humility, or our lack of humility, very seriously. The sacrifice which God wants from us is declared in Psalm 51:17 for “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” To present these to God, we need to present ourselves in humility and totally without pride. Romans 12:3 confirms this approach to God, saying, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. But set your mind to be right-minded, even as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Again here, Paul is asking us for humility in all we are, and in all we do, but not just toward God, to all of mankind also.
It is hard for us to be humble and see ourselves are we really are, rather than through the worldly lens of pride. We look at ourselves in a mirror, but the lens of pride changes what we see. Scottish poet, Robert Burns, craved the gift “to see ourselves as others see us.” For those who are blessed on earth today, they have friends who can perform this function with love, though the sight of our unrepentant self may be more than we are at first willing to accept. But God is clear: God says “Put on humility.” God says “Be humble.” God does not say, “feel humble.” Humility is an action word, not an emotional word. We need to “be” humble, not “feel” humble – God says so!
Yes humility is a decision we can all make. It is a choice, whether we want to face that reality or not. It is a characteristic of ourselves which we can change and which we can practice, no matter how uncomfortable it first feels. We can all learn, as God says above, to “Put on humility.” Yes, it takes practice and it takes patience, but it can be done. Jesus gives us a simple and practical example of humbling ourselves in Luke 14:7-11 saying:
“And He put forth a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose out the chief places, saying to them,
‘When you are invited by anyone to a wedding, do not recline in the chief seat, lest a more honourable man than you may be invited by him. And he who invited you and him shall come and say to you, Give place to this man; and then you begin with shame to take the last place.
But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher. Then glory shall be to you before those reclining with you.
For whoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.’”
Jesus tells us here not to take the best seats at a function, lest we are embarrassed when asked to vacate our seats for more important guests and move to lower positions. Instead, we ought to take the lowest seats, from which we may be raised before the eyes of others.
The Bible also gives multiple examples of humbling oneself through fasting, which affects both the natural and spiritual. As Psalm 35:13 says “But when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fastings; and my prayer returned into my own bosom.” Psalm 69:10 supports this saying “When I humbled my soul with fasting, it turned to my reproach.” It is interesting to note that Jesus expects Christians to both pray and fast (Matthew 6:16-18). Here He is asking us to be both prayerful and humble, for the Matthew 6:16-18 describes humility in action both, before man and God saying:
“And when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, of a sad face. For they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to fast, but to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.”
Prayers by Christians, in which we ask God to humble us, are not Biblical. God expects us to humble ourselves and he has given us the tools and examples to accomplish our own humbling. The Old Testament is full of instances of God humbling people and nations and it is not a pretty sight; for God is bringing them low, generally because of their rebellion before Him. When Bible characters call upon the Lord God to “humble” their enemies, they are not asking for their enemy to be brought gently to a place of humility and repentance. Instead, they are asking for these persons or peoples, to be totally crushed and destroyed by the wrath of God. We do not really want to pray that upon ourselves. Indeed, in Second Corinthians 12:21 Paul makes it clear that he does not want to be humbled by God as he says “lest in my coming again my God will humble me with you” for as Hebrews 10:31 says it is “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
We have all been given choices and one of these for born-again Christians is our own means and methods of humbling ourselves. It is not an optional choice in life and our walk with God, but a mandatory choice. We may choose the means and method, but participation, is compulsory.