Humility is required to have the proper, biblical view of God, self and others. Jesus Christ exuded humility. It was one of His chief characteristics (Isa 42:1-4, Zec 9:9). As such, when the Christian grows in the faith, maturing into Christ-likeness, he will increasingly the humility that Christ himself possessed (2 Cor 10:1).
The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is at the top of God’s hate list!
Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
Pride was the sin that caused Satan to be cast out of heaven (Isa 14:14-15). Satan sowed the seeds of pride in the heart of Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen 3:5-6). Pride remains a chief characteristic of Satan and of all who follow him (John 8:31-59; 1John 2:16). It is pride that is behind all strife, wrath and unbelief (Prov 13:10; Prov 21:24; Ps 10:4). Finally, pride is always followed by shame, destruction and humiliation (Prov 11:2; Prov 29:23; Prov 16:18).
God is the sovereign of the universe and Jesus Christ is Lord over all. God and God alone deserves honour, exaltation and praise (Ps 148:13). So, everytime man lifts himself up in pride, he challenges the sovereignty and glory of God. He vies for the honour and praise that God alone is worthy of.
God hates pride so much that he designed the entire salvation plan in such a way as to eliminate any possibility that men could boast of their salvation.
1 Corinthians 1:19-31 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Salvation is by grace through faith and not of human works “lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:9). God actively designed salvation in such a way that human pride could play no part. As the hymnwriter put it: Naught have I gotten but what I received;
Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed;
Boasting excluded, pride I abase;
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!
Humility – A Key to the Kingdom of God
Jesus Christ’s main opponents during his earthly ministry were the scribes and Pharisees. It is not surprising to learn that these two groups were known for their self-righteous pride (Luke 16:14-15). They strutted about under the guise of religious elitism the entire time being children of the devil and on their way to Hell. (John 8:44, Matt 23:15) Matt 23:1-12.
Jesus went on to say that the scribes and Pharisees always sought the best seats at dinners and at synagogue. They loved personal attention and recognition in public. They relished titles designed to exalt them above the common people. The position they held within their religious system was, to them, something to be proud of and they wasted no opportunity to remind others of that fact.
The scribes and Pharisees were proud legalists. They prided themselves on keeping the rules that they wrote themselves. They were not concerned with inward purity, but only outward appearance (Matt 23:27). They were hypocrites who worshipped God with their lips, but not their hearts (Matt 15:1-9). What we see proven over and over again by the example of the scribes and Pharisees is that legalism and pride go hand-in-hand. The legalist believes he can please God in and of himself. He is depending upon his own righteousness to earn favour with God. Naturally, the man or woman who believes they have earned God’s grace will be lifted up with pride by what they perceive to be their accomplishment. (Rom 10:3; Rom 3:37)
In Luke 18:9-14 we find a striking illustration of this as Christ contrasts the prideful legalism of the Pharisees with the genuine repentance of a humble publican. The Pharisees were the religious rulers while the publicans were despised by the Jews and regarded as sinners (Matt 9:10-11; Matt 11:19).
Luke 18:9-14 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The publican in Jesus’ parable was the complete opposite of the Pharisee. The Pharisee had a distorted view of God, himself and others. He thought he was good enough to find favour with God. So good in fact, that he had the audacity to praise himself and his works before God. He felt that as long as his works outshined the works of others, he had attained righteousness. In contrast, the publican with utter humility would not even look to Heaven. But he stood with head bowed and smiting himself on the chest (a gesture of disdain for himself and his sinfulness), he prayed only seven words “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Q. v14. Who went home justifed?
The publican had no pretense about him. He knew he could not save himself and was unworthy of God’s mercy. He humbly, and with anguish, cast himself at the feet of God the Father seeking forgiveness. These men were simply illustrations in Jesus’ parable. He painted the picture of a prideful and self-righteous man in contrast to a humble sinner in order to illustrate the way of salvation. The truth in this parable applies to every man or woman who comes to God for mercy.
Matthew 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus did not accept the premise of the disciple’s question. He told them that they had to be “converted.” That is, their thinking was completely wrong and unless they understood the right attitude necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they would not enter in.
A child is helpless and dependent. He has no accomplishments, no titles, and no lust for worldly exaltation. He is the epitome of humility. He has no pretense and no hypocrisy, only a simple trust and reliance. To come to God as a child is to put aside our facades and self-righteousness, casting ourselves at his feet declaring our unworthiness and inability to save ourselves.
Jesus emphasized this truth in Matthew 5:3 where he said “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..” To be poor in spirit is to be humble, destitute and utterly dependent upon God. This is the attitude that everyone must have when they come to God for salvation. In contrast to this sincere humility, Psalms 10:4 says The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Humility – The Basis of a Biblical Worldview
The Pharisee in Luke 18 was lifted up with pride and unwilling to humble himself before God. Not only did his pride preclude him from entering heaven, but it perverted his view in three important areas: his view of God, his view of himself, and his view of others. Likewise, everyone who is prone to pride will also have an ungodly and unbiblical view in each of these areas.
1. A Wrong View of Self
1 Peter 1:24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
1 Corinthians 4:7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
The psalmist had the right view of himself when he wrote Psalms 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Humility recognizes our sinfulness, our inability and our unworthiness of God’s favour.
1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
2. A Wrong View of God
Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
God alone deserves praise. He is the sovereign of the universe, the provider, protecter and enabler. Man has no right to exalt himself, because all that he is and all that he possesses is graciously provided by God (Deu 8:17-18; 1 Cor 4:7). The prideful man has lost sight of this and places himself in a position that only God should occupy.
3. A Wrong View of Others
Isaiah described the selfish, self-righteous, condescending attitude of prideful rebels when he summarized their attitude towards others in Isaiah 65:5: “[They] say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” God responded, “These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” In stark contrast to these rebels, Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to view one another as better than ourselves. When we do this, we will also be concerned with the “things” of others more than our own things. This humility will lead us to care for, provide for, and pray for one another (1 Cor 12:25; James 5:16). It will enable us to forgive one another and ultimately serve one another (Eph 4:32; Gal 5:13).
This humble love and care for one another is a far cry from the attitude of the Jews of Isaiah’s day or the Pharisees of Christ’s day.
Without humility we cannot have a biblical view of God, ourselves or others. We will diminish God’s glory, exalt ourselves and disregard others. As a result, we will fail to the character of Christ and bring shame to the name of God. Humility is really a cornerstone of Christian character. It is absolutely essential to properly the character of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.