Article: Life is a long lesson in Humility | Pr. Lalachan Abraham, Patna
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)
Charles Spurgeon said, “Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace,”
Men by nature are proud creatures that love to proclaim what we know and can do. Pride is the root of every sin and evil. God does more than hate pride. Pride is so offensive that God actually “resists the proud,” while, in contrast, He “gives grace to the humble”. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal shows that leaders who show humility are more influential and make better leaders than those who do not. The study also found that a leader’ humility is transmittable; in other words, humble leaders’ followers were much more humble themselves.
Why is humility such a big deal to God? Because…
Pride defies God.
Pride is an attitude of independence from God. The universe was originally ideal and full of peace. Everything was perfect. There was no strife, confusion, violence, evil or destruction. Then things began to change. Gradually, one of God’s greatest angels started to think how great he was. The angel—the one often called Lucifer—began to think that he was even greater than God Himself. As his pride grew, he apparently corrupted other angels and staged a rebellion against the very God of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19; Revelation 12:7-9). It was pride that turned Lucifer, the son of the morning star, into Satan, the prince of the darkness. Pride leads the parade, and God hates it.
Pride leads to calamity; Proverbs 16:18syas “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.” Thinking that we do not need God is one of the biggest mistakes we can make. Satan—the arrogant being who started all of the evil we see in the world—is still “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). His goal is the utter destruction of every single human being in existence. The only way that we can prevent him from achieving that goal is to “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
Pride defiles man.
We were born with pride, and it defiles the very heart of man. (Mark 7:21-13).Choosing to do my own will – living according to my own desires, reasoning, argument and selfishness – rather than God’s will is pride. Pride is effective because it is deceptive. The more you have, the less you think you have it. In fact, the proud person is often very proud of his humility. To understand why God hates pride and esteems humility so much, it is necessary to understand what God has planned for the human race. Humankind was made with a purpose—the purpose of becoming sons and daughters of God Himself (2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:10). Those who become children of God will be given awesome privileges and power. That power cannot go to just anybody. God will only give it to those He trusts to use it wisely. If He gave that power to someone as arrogant as the devil, the potential for evil and destruction would be unimaginable. Nothing brings more destruction to our nation, our homes, and our relationships than pride. It is vital that we learn the lesson of humility. Because Pride destroys, devastates and corrupts. No member of God’s family can afford to possess pride. God does not, and neither will His children.
Pride divides society.
There has never been an argument, a war, a divorce, nor was a community split that pride was not the major factor. If God resists the proud, then the proud man is out of fellowship with God. Anyone who is out of fellowship with God is going to be out of fellowship with other people. Our society applauds independence, fame, success, and self-reliance. The proud person wants praise, honor, and esteem, but through pride, he gets dishonor Pride ultimately destroys all that it controls. It is the road to ruin. “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud” (Proverbs 15:25) Pride causes us to forget that the nations are a drop in the bucket compared to God (Isaiah 40:15). Pride makes us think that we do not need God. Humility is the freedom that comes when pride goes.
In order to do so we need to be born again, because when we were born the first time, we were born with a nature inclined to pride. Humility recognizes our own spiritual poverty (cf. Matt. 5:3). A new birth is like a baby being born all over again. Further, we should allow our new life in Christ to develop and take over our way of thinking so that we begin to think like God thinks.
The Bible says, “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” NLT says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”You are created by the hands of God, with the breath of God, in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). The human mind is like no other created thing. In the beautiful creation that is your mind, God has given you the ability to think, study, analyze, process, ponder, store into memory, reframe, and so much more. When God’s word says to renew your mind (Romans 12:2), it is because God knows you have the ability to do this. He created this ability in you. However, it takes focus, commitment, and intentionality. Allow God to fill your mind with His truth, guidance, and direction. Seek to journey along the perfect path He has created for you.
To put it in another way, God wants our mind to begin to think the ways He thinks. In the Bible, we have God’s way of thinking. If you want to know God’s way of thinking, read the Bible. If you want to know what God thinks of money, what God thinks of cheating others, jealousy, selfishness or unselfishness, humility or pride, or any matter, just read the Bible. When we begin to think as God thinks, we begin to act as God would act. You see, our whole inner life controls our external behavior, and that is why God’s Word says, ‘Don’t be conformed to the world.’ Humility often feels like a paradox, but it is consistent with teachings of our Lord Jesus. What does it really mean to be humble? How can we cultivate this attribute that God prizes so highly?
Andrew Murray, defines Humility as the place of entire dependence upon God. Grace is both the desire and the ability to do the will of God. The grace of God is sufficient for everyone, and no one can be saved apart from the grace of God. But, grace and pride are antithetical, and God resists the proud. It is not that God merely doesn’t help the proud — God lines Himself up in a battle array against them. Pride can cause us to turn our time and attention to the accomplishment of what we want and not what God wants. We overestimate our own importance and the role we play in this world and under-estimate the Providence of God.
Likewise, pride can turn us away from a focus on the Will of God and onto our own self-interest. By loving service to one another and by generous sharing, we move away from pride and envy and toward humility and service. God requires humility of those who choose to follow Him (Micah 6:8). It is on the humble one He will look, not the arrogant (Isaiah 66:2). The contrast is so strong that the Bible declares, “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow” (Proverbs 15:25). We have no qualification to produce the grace of humility in ourselves. So, how do we get it?
The Bible says “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time (I Peter 5:6).” If true greatness could be described with one word based on Biblical truths, it would have to be “Humility” the Bible shows it’s not just a moral characteristic—it’s one that’s essential to please God. The world says one ascends into greatness, but the Bible reveals that one descends into greatness. Many people misunderstand the Bible, God, and humility. They think humility means being weak or passive. That’s not God’s message to us. Biblical humility is grounded in the nature of God. Jesus said, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29)
The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness and absence of selfishness. The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind,” so we see that humility is a heart attitude, not merely an outward demeanor. We should maintain an attitude of deference toward both God and other persons. A humble demeanor is not a denial of our worth as individuals. Rather, it is the tool that allows us, insofar as possible, to be in peace with all persons. You do not need to stand up for yourself in an angry manner. And you don’t have to win every argument.”A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. “(Proverbs 15:1) When you understand God and humility, you don’t need to act like a big shot. The better you know God, the less you have to prove.
As children of God, we must respect all of God’s creation, including our fellow human beings created in God’s image. Humility means putting God and other persons ahead of our own selfish interests. Humility comes with the knowledge that God’s creation as a whole transcends our own narrow interests. By humility, we acknowledge that God created us for his purposes and not for our self-glorification. By humility, we acknowledge the dignity of all God’s people. By humility, we cool the angry passions of others. By humility, we can turn enemies into friends. Humility is essential to receive Forgiveness and answers to our prayers. God says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land….”
Humility is the foundation of all virtues; because from it purity, charity, clarity, integrity, sincerity, obedience, pragmatism, truthfulness, strength, and dedication are born. Humility is being comfortable with who we are in the Lord. Augustine said, “The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient, it was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”. Humility is mandatory to receive God’s Grace Riches, Honor and Life. Proverbs 22:4, says “By humility and the fear of the Lord, Are riches and honor and life’” We come nearest to the great God when we are great in humility. As with other aspects of wisdom, humility will gain us much more than we sacrifice.
The clearest picture of humility in the Bible, indeed, in history, is Jesus Christ. He modeled godly humility for us. Jesus gave us a perfect example of humility in action. When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He revealed to us the very mind of the Father (John 5:19). The example that Christ set was one of humility (Luke 22:27; John 13:1-16). Christ’s willingness to become human and sacrifice Himself for His creation was the supreme act of love and humility (Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).
In the history of the world, many billions of people have lived and died. Many have left their mark on the fabric of time, but no one has made as indelible an impression as a humble Jewish man named Jesus. Had He been an ordinary man, the world would have forgotten Him as soon as He had died. However, He was not an ordinary man! Who He was and what He did forever altered the flow of human history and changed eternity for countless millions.
If Jesus had come into our world as an angel, it would have been an act of humility. If he had come as a great and mighty king, it would have been an act of humility. But when he was born in a stable and cradled in a manger, when he could say of himself , “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”. When he sailed in a borrowed boat, and was buried in a borrowed tomb; how well it might be said that he was teaching humility all the days of his life on earth. Yet he did not think that this was enough. Therefore, he gave his disciples many lessons on this subject. Disciples were all concerned over who would be the greatest in Heaven, but Jesus reminded them that true greatness is a great paradox.
Jesus did not condemn the disciples’ attitude and ambition rather; He redirected it toward selfless service, which, He taught, is the only way to achieve their true ambitions. Men never earn the respect of others by forced obedience, but they earn the respect of others by first being a servant – Mark 10:42-44 “So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them, but among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else…” Christ’s message was that greatness comes from serving others with humility and God requires humility.
Biblical humility is not only necessary to enter the kingdom, it is also necessary to be great in the kingdom (see Mathew 20:26-27). We never forget that He has exchanged our worthlessness for His infinite worth and our sin for His righteousness. Philippians 2:5-11(NLT) we read these precious verses about the Lord Jesus “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The above verses tell us Christ’s Coming to this world was a unique and Humbling event – Jesus voluntarily laid aside some of His divine prerogatives when He came into this world. Took upon Him the form of a servant and he was made in the likeness of man. Jesus was born as a man, He lived as a man, He suffered as a man and He died as a man. He was in every sense of the word, real, genuine, humble human man. He knew pain, poverty, sorrow, loneliness and rejection. He knew laughter, love, hope, fellowship and friendship. He knew every aspect of human existence, yet He knew no sin. He voluntarily came into this world and subjected Himself to human existence so that He might identify Himself with you and me.
When God became a man, He never stopped being God! While Jesus Christ was 100% man, He was also 100% God! He merely concealed His heavenly fame within an earthly frame! His advent was holy because when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God literally came into this world and walked among men, John 1:1; 14! The result was a sinless human being, 1 Pet. 2:22; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15. There is no one else in the world like Him. The rest of humanity was born bearing the stain of Adam’s sin, Rom. 5:12; Rom. 3:10-23. Jesus entered this world free from Adam’s sin because He had no earthly father. He alone was holy in His miracle birth.
We are told that Jesus, the God-man, willingly allowed Himself to be overtaken by death! The One called the “Prince of Life”, Acts 3:15 entered the face of death willingly for you and me! The One Who is “the resurrection and the life”, John 11:25, humbled Himself and allowed the cruel fingers of death to wrap themselves around Him, so that we might experience His life. The death He died was no ordinary death. The Bible says it this way: “even the death of the cross”. No more brutal form of execution has ever existed in the history of the world, Isa. 53:4-6; 10! Jesus died in horrible agony so that you and I might live in boundless glory.
Jesus said Not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). True humility is being willing to give up everything that comes from myself in order to be obedient to God, and do His will. True humility is the attitude that I can learn from Jesus: “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Our life of serving others begins with humility. If we are humble servants of the Lord Jesus, nothing will affect us, neither praise nor disgrace, because we know what we are and when we know what we are: nothing can dismay us. In the Kingdom of God, human values are often reversed, to be first in God’s Kingdom one must be willing to be last and to be a servant of all. Greatness in Christ’s kingdom consists not of position but of Child-like faith and humble service. Greatness involves caring about people who can do nothing to repay you. Being a servant combined with humility is a path to true greatness. We come nearest to the great God when we are great in humility.
Jesus says, “If you welcome the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence and no wealth and no power, the people who need things done for them, you welcome me. More than that, you welcome God!” There is a warning here. It is easy to cultivate the friendship of the person who can do things for us and whose influence can be useful to us. And it is equally easy to avoid those who inconveniently need our help. Jesus asks us to seek out not those who can do things for us, but those for whom we can do things, for in this way we are seeking Jesus himself.
Jesus asks us to seek out not those who can do things for us, but those for whom we can do things. This calling is to all people. So, let us go forth from here to work toward being servants of others. Let us work to overcome envy and pride so that God’s peace can find a way in the world. The Apostle Paul tells us in the Philippians 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…”… After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus said in John 13:14 “, Therefore if I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another.’ So make humility the first and most essential element of our spiritual journey. Humility Pleases God and It Is A Virtue, That God Treasures and Highly Values. Remember True humility produces godliness, contentment, and security.
Pastor Lalachan Abraham, Patna