Text: Philippians 2:5-8, James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:5
Humility is the quality of being humble, recognition of self in relation to God. It is to have grace to accept one's defects and submission to define grace. It is an attitude that recognises one's own ignorance to a humble acceptance of the fact that without God 's help one can not know the truth. It is having a right view of oneself in relation to God and others and acting accordingly. It is to appreciate others worth as important. It is the opposite of pride. It is the eighth component of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is void of arrogance and it comes before honour (Proverbs 15:33). It is meekness, lowliness and absence of self. It is thinking of yourself less.
Charles Spurgeon defines humility as "making a right estimate of oneself." William Barclay defines humility as 'a gentle, gracious and submissive spirit." God requires of you to walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8). As God's chosen people, you are to clothe yourself with humility (Colossians 3:12). You are admonished to be clothed with humility; for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5. Jesus said, "For I am gentle and humble in heart". Matthew 11:29b, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10. Humility is grounded in the character of God. Jesus is a perfect example of humility. He exhibits humility from the manger to the cross and gives us a good example of humility in action. Philippians 2:5-8 say, "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!" Jesus showed and demonstrated to us what it is to be humble.
Evidence of humility in ones' life can be seen when:
(1) gentle answer proceeds from your mouth.
(2) you don't feel a need for vengeance or revenge.
(3) you take criticism with love and make amendment.
(4) you gladly accept and receive criticism and have desire to improve on your character.
(5) you apologise sincerely when you wrong others.
(6) you respect other people's opinions and give due honour to them.
(7) you give recognition to other people's virtues and talents.
(8) you recognise your own limitation.
Let us consider some characters that were humble in the Bible.
Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Apostle Paul, The Centurion, and The Tax Collector.
Humility as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:5-8
He exhibited humility from manger to the cross. He humbled himself as a servant even unto death. Despite the fact that he knew God had put all things under his power,, he humbled himself by washing his disciples feet and drying them. John 13:5. He said he came to serve and not to be served. Matthew 20:28. Though he was the son of God, he was gentle and humble. He gave his life as a ransom. He exhibited and demonstrated righteous humility to unjust torture. He left heaven to come to earth and took the form of man. He says I am gentle and humble in heart. He is humility personified and he encouraged us to follow suit. You are admonished to embrace humility. Humility characterises true Christianity.
Humility as demonstrated by John the Baptist. John 1:19-32
He was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He humbled himself by his response when the priests and the Levites sent by the Jewish leaders asked him whom he was. He confessed freely, "I am not the Messiah.I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, make straight the way for the Lord." John 1:23.When they questioned him further, "why then do you baptise if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" "I baptise with water", John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who come after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." John 1:26-27. When John saw Jesus coming the next day he said, "This is the one I meant when I said, A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me." John 1:30. John talked lowly of himself and even said he was not worthy to untie the straps of Jesus sandals.
Humility as demonstrated by Paul. 1 Co1ossians 5:9
He admonished in Romans 12:3 that one should not think of himself more highly than he ought to think but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. He admonished Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:24-25 to be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, and in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. Out of humility, Paul's statement was recorded in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Paul recognised with humility that he was chief of all sinners and when asked to preach, he confessed in Ephesians 3:8, "Unto me who am less the least of all saints, in this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles of unsearchable riches of Christ." His teaching elucidates Christian humility. Despite the great gifts bestowed on him, he sees himself as the least of the apostles. 1 Co1ossians 5:9, "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God." He sees himself as nothing and sees the opportunity to preach as unmerited favour bestowed on him by God. He also admonished the Philippians in Philippians 2:3 to, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." It is only someone who is humble and dead to self that could counsel others in this manner.
Humility as demonstrated by a Roman Centurion. Luke 7:1-9
When the centurion's servant was ill and about to die, the Centurion sent some elders to Jesus to come and heal his servant. When Jesus was not too far from the Centurion's house, he sent friends to say to Jesus, "Lord don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you." The Centurion demonstrated faith with much humility. Despite the fact that he had many soldiers and servants under him, he considered himself lowly to have Jesus under his roof.
Humility as demonstrated by the Tax Collector. Luke 18:9-14
The parable of two men who prayed as told by Jesus Christ. The Pharisee was so obsessed by his own virtue and self righteousness that when he stood up to pray at the temple he sang his own praises and condemned others. But the tax collector recognised his state of unworthiness before God and confessed that he was a sinner. Luke 18:13-14, "But the tax collector stood at a distance; He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God have mercy on me a sinner." He went home justified before God while the Pharisee went home with nothing. "I tell you that this man, that is the tax collector, rather than the Pharisee went home justified before God ." He humbly asked for God's mercy.
Brethren, always come before God with a humble heart, so that you can receive and be exalted. Humility is a trait of a lifetime. It is one of the components of the fruit of the Holy Spirit and you have to embrace it. However you need the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in one that can accomplish humility. It brings humility to perfection in one's life. The Holy Spirit is willing and is able to bear fruit. For you to be able to bear this fruit (humility) the word of God must have been planted in you. James 1:21, "Therefore get rid of all moral filth and evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." Allow the Holy Spirit to nourish you to bearing fruit. You are known by the fruit you bear. So let your delight be in the law of the LORD; and meditate on it day and night." Psalm 1:2.
Advantages of being humble.
- You are free from pride and arrogance.
- God gives grace to the humble. James 4:6.
- The humble is exalted by God. Matthew 23:12
- It enables you to serve others. John 13:5
- God dwells with the humble. Isaiah 57:15
- It helps you to think highly of others and less of yourself . Philippians 2:3.
- It enables you to have effective witnessing.
- It also enables you to answer anyone who asks you questions with respect and gentleness
- You are admonished to correct someone at fault in a spirit of humility and those against you with utmost gentleness and respect. May you be endowed to bear this fruit.
Father, I want to be fruitful. Fill me with your spirit until I am overflowing so that I can exhibit the full complement of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.