Humility is not one the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit but it is an integral part – the soil – of the process that produces the fruit. Christ said that we should produce fruit and that our fruit remains (John 15.16). Consequently, humility is an absolute necessity for growth in the God family-oriented governance structure. Without humility, it is impossible to have a relationship with our Father which allows us to walk and converse with Him (Micah 6:8).
Vine’s Expositor’s Dictionary states the Greek root word for “humble” and “humility” is tapeinos and primarily signifies “low-lying”. It is always used in a good sense in the NT, metaphorically, to denote “humble existence”, “humbled”, and “humility”.
Conversely, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) points out the Hellenistic (Greek) world considered humility negatively. They believed the idea of lowering yourself for someone else was not humility but humiliation. Tapeinos was normally used to denote the way a servant should behave towards masters not something men of the same social class should portray to one another. However, Christ and the early Church taught that humility was a virtue Christians should cultivate and display to everyone at all times. It was not based on social or ethnic class.
The Hebrew root word for humility is anah. Its meanings parallel its Greek counterpart with one significant addition which is “to be afflicted”. Anah occurs approximately 80 times in the Hebrew Scriptures – the first time in Gen 15:13, “Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years”.
The word translated “afflict” is anah. When we understand the meaning is related to humility, we realize that God is actually revealing a primary reason He allowed the children is Israel to become Egyptian slaves was to instill humility. Preparing them to become His people through which He could work and have a relationship.
Humility is a virtue of temperance. A virtue is a standard of right behavior or of moral excellence. Temperance is the group of virtues that refrain, control, or temper our natural innate, desires or appetites. Humility is a virtue that battles, opposes and “tempers” our greatest natural, inherent vice – pride. Pride is a major obstacle that must be overcome before we can expect God’s Will to be done in our lives. Developing humility is an essential antidote for that pride.
For those who desire to be true followers of Christ and children of the Father, humility is of the utmost importance. Humility is a key ingredient – like soil, in which all our relationships grow. Without it, our relationship with the Father is hindered. King David makes this clear in Psalms 138:6 (NLT), “Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.”
So we must ask ourselves why, when we fall into trials, we fight against them when they are so crucial to building Godly character. Perhaps we need to consider what James said to us (James 1:2-4), “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
By Bill Hutchison