Christian Words, Part Six – Humility

Humility – from humble, not proud or haughty. not arrogant or assertive. reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission

“You can have no greater sign of confirmed pride than when you think you are humble enough.”
–William Law

Humility is a concept that I am trying very hard to incorporate into my daily life. As difficult as it can be, the act of humbling yourself can be – well – humbling. I believe the essential part of the definition above is the first two words – not proud. We really cannot talk about this word without discussing its opposite – pride.

It is said that pride is the root of sin and evil As we discuss this topic, I think you will understand why I agree with that sentiment.

“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
–Psalms 10:4

What does the verse above mean? Well, it does not mean that the proud do not believe in God. What it means is the product of pride is distance from God. In essence, when we put our desires above God, we are trying to replace God with ourselves. Humility, then is the act of realizing how unimportant our desires are in the face of God’s will. It is a surrendering to His will, realizing that is not by anything we do, but by the grace of God that all things are possible.

Today we are inundated with ways to avoid humility. Think about our American culture and the ever present need for us to acquire material things. We all have to have the latest car, the latest smart phone, the biggest house. The phrase “keeping up with the Jones’” is a phrase invented by people who could use a little humility in their lives. Yet how often have we seen in the news the affect of money on some, who end up being consumed, committing fraud or other crimes in their pursuit of their idol. None of these people started out with these selfish desires. It grew step by step, as they strayed farther and farther from God and more into their sin, fueled by pride.

But money is not the only issue in our society. Sometimes the lack of humility leads to sin fueled by other evils such as conceit or vanity. Not too long ago I spoke about a mother who, seeking to live through her young daughter, was injecting Botox into her child, as part of her competition in beauty pageants. We also see many others in our culture that are driven by the pursuit of themselves, looking for ways to draw attention to themselves, rather than humble themselves and realize that the world does not revolve around them. Has this ever occurred to you? I am sure it has. How many of us pass the homeless man on the street, barely looking at him because he smells or looks bad? How many of us think ourselves better than someone else? We all do at one point or another. Since we are not perfect, achieving perfect humility in our lives is something we will constantly struggle with, yet it is the key to understanding what Jesus Christ was trying to teach us.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
–John 13:1-17

What a beautiful passage from the Bible. There are some passages I read that simply stand on their own. They teach us so much about how we should live our lives. Here Jesus teaches us better than anyone what humility really means. If Jesus, being the Son of God, can humble himself and wash the feet of his disciples, what excuse do we have? None. We are taught by our Savior that any of us should be ready to wash the feet of our neighbor. What does that mean for our daily lives?

Well, maybe it means that the next time someone at work comes to you with a problem, you don’t brush him aside because you cannot be bothered, or because he is a new employee and you believe helping him out is somehow beneath you. Maybe for someone else it means that when the homeless man asks you for a quarter, you give him a dollar, not passing him by because you think less of him. Maybe it means choosing a more loving and helpful way to correct someone who has done something wrong.

Before I close, I do want to address one part of humility, and that is how, within the church. we deal with our fellow brothers and sisters. All too often, we hear about people who have left the church. Many times, the answers they give have to do with how people in the church treated them. All too often, in the pursuit of “doing the right thing”, we end up driving people away, and that is a shame. We don’t do it purposely. Even though our heart is in the right place, we are sinners, and sometimes a lack of humility is our downfall.

Humbling ourselves is not something reserved only for others. We all need to make it a conscious point to humble ourselves everyday. We need to look at every person who walks through our door as someone worthy of our love and affection. We should be willing to wash their feet, willing to serve them no differently than any other brother or sister. Humbling ourselves is a necessary part of fellowship. We are not to condemn them in an effort to make comparisons between them and us. If Jesus could humble himself, as great a King as He is, there is no excuse for us to drive our fellow man away because we could not come down from our self-appointed throne, a throne we have no right to cling to.

Let us always remember who Jesus Christ came to save.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
–Romans 5:6


5 thoughts on “Christian Words, Part Six – Humility

  1. Just wanted to stop by and say hi. I came across your link on “it just dawned on me”.
    Humility such a simple word to say yet for so many it’s difficult to practice. A concept we should all try very hard to incorporate into our lives. Christians and non-christians alike.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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