More often than not, when it comes to our personal problems, humility is the solution we’ve been looking for. A lack of humility is why we get stuck. Ironically, it’s why we find it hard to move ahead. Humility is the antidote to what ails us. It neutralizes pride, anger, discord, lying, lust, judging, self-centeredness, and envy, to name just a few human issues. It is so important that we should come with a note at birth that says, “Do not operate without humility.” Instead, we come with a mindset that encourages just the opposite.
Part of the problem is that we live in a world that teaches us that our fulfillment, our accomplishment, and our happiness is of primary importance. Right becomes what’s best for me. If the right thing to do is to look after me, then humility is really a secondary value. If getting what’s best for me, if getting the respect I deserve, and getting recognized for who I am and what I do is the filter that guides us, then humility is a useless concept.
Proverbs 22:4 places humility and the fear of the Lord together: By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life. Humility and the fear of the Lord go together. The NIV translates it as: 4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life. Interestingly, one produces the other. A fear of the Lord produces humility, and humility produces a fear of the Lord.
Understanding who God is and what He has done for us gives us a proper perspective from which to see ourselves and by extension, others. Humility is viewing myself—who I am, what I have done—through the lens of who God is and who I am in relationship to Him. If you don’t understand that, humility is little more than an effective manipulation of others. And we see that all the time.
We are not better than our Creator, nor are we better than anyone else. But humility isn’t self-denigration: running around saying, “I’m nothing, and everyone else is better than me.” Nor is it manifested in that way. That’s not what it looks like.
Humility is channeling all that we are, our status, our power, our resources, our accomplishments, and our strengths in the service of others—to encourage, to esteem others, to strengthen, to assist, and to build-up. That is humility manifested. The more we are given the more we have a responsibility to use it in the service of others.
Humility recognizes that all that I am is from God. I am nothing without Him. And with that perspective, it is God’s intention that we channel all that we are to love one another because we understand who we are in relationship to Him. Humility is manifested in our relationships with each other because we fear God.
Humility is a perception issue. Humility takes us from our self-centered view of the world to a God-centered view of the world. A perspective that places a governor on our behavior as we willingly submit to God’s law.
Ultimately, one of the greatest benefits of humility is that it makes us teachable.
In Proverbs 11:2 (NIV), we read, 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. God gives wisdom to the humble because they are open to it. A conceited person is unteachable. Humility precedes all growth.
Consequently, humility is intimately intertwined with all of the fruits of the spirit we are to be developing; they cannot be pursued in isolation. You can’t be righteous and not be humble.
It is instructive that Zephaniah places righteousness and humility together. In Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV), he writes: 3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.
A humble person can be entreated and taught. Humility listens. We must listen to learn. Humility allows for vulnerability, correction, and repentance. Humility leads us to reality and truth, while pride breeds the artificial and aberrations. People who think they know “all-that-is-important” seal themselves off from learning and the constructive criticism that fuels growth. God rewards humility with wisdom.
Humility moves us forward. Pride entrenches us. Humility puts us in a frame of mind where we can grow, where we can become unstuck because it opens our minds.
Are we struggling? Are we stuck? Humility may be just the answer we’re looking for.