If there is one dominant character trait of Jesus Christ, it is His humility. You see it in every area of His life, from the manger to the cross. Every step our Lord took was in perfect submission to His Father and in the role of a servant. Someone once said that if you think you are humble, then you’re not. While there can be some truth in that, it is every Christian’s responsibility to strive to be like Jesus Christ, even in His humility.
If you want to see what a truly humble man looks like, then you study the life of Christ. A godly man is like Jesus. Humility is the end product of God’s grace, fully released in a man’s life. A humbled man is not the same thing as a humble man. A man may be humbled by disease or the loss of a job, but that does not necessarily make him a humble man. Lucifer rejected his place of service, lifted his heart up in pride, and desired to be the Ruler of all. Even in his humiliation, Satan rejects humility; “the way up is down,” makes no sense to him.
There is also a difference in outward humility and inward humility. A man may appear humble in what he does, but a humble spirit is not always determined by our “To Do” list. Absalom appeared to be humble when he was secretly planning to usurp his father’s throne. Many people were deceived by Absalom, because he put out his hand and greeted them with a kiss. (2 Sam. 15:5) The Roman Catholic leaders have a history of making an elaborate show of ceremony in order to convince their followers of their humility. The Catholic Church has gotten rich off of such outward shows and rituals.
What does real humility look like in the life of a saved individual?
First of all, a humble Christian is emptied of all thoughts of himself. Humility is not some kind of self-deprecation, but biblical humility is not thinking of self at all. I like the way Thomas Watson said it, “A humble man has lower thoughts of himself than others can have of him.” Paul saw himself as the chief of sinners. Humble people do not need a strong dose of reality since they see themselves as they really are.
Secondly, a humble Christian thinks better of others than himself. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:3) If you spend significant time with God each day in Bible study and prayer, you will see your heart as He sees it and this will keep you in your place as you serve God and others. Humble people work on strengthening their weaknesses and at the same time they think the best of others, thinking only of their positive attributes and potential for God.
Thirdly, a humble man has the right view of his ministry. Pride is lurking around the working Christian’s life, ready to puff him up and lessen his work for God. Hate your sins, see them like God sees them, but there is more. Though God may bless the work of your hands, keep a low view of your labor. Better that God esteem your work than you. It seems all too true that we have not done enough for Him. There is no life that can pay God back for all that He has done for us; ten lifetimes of sacrificial work could not balance the scales. When have you ever had a lengthy time of prayer, Bible study, or service and thought, “I have done enough.”?
Fourthly, a humble Christian’s heart convicts him of his unworthiness. Ours is a heart of doubt and unbelief. The hypocrite is constantly telling how good he is. It pains God’s heart to hear His children brag and lay claim to something that He has done for them. I once heard a foolish-thinking, young man boast about his own sermons and performance while preaching. A humble man is forever thinking how poor he is and how much more he needs to become.
Fifthly, humble Christians magnify Jesus Christ. We may be promised rewards and crowns, but the humble servant is thinking of the joy of giving his treasures back to the One who is perfect in all things. Agape love can give up anything to the Person loved. The truly humble saint loves the Lord with every part of his being: body, mind, and spirit. It is our desire to exalt the One who saved us. This is when we purposefully serve in the shadows so that His name might be lifted up. Think akin to John the Baptist, “Let Jesus increase and let me decrease.” Learn to step aside if the Master so wishes it. Many have gladly gone to prison and to the stake for the glory of God.
Sixthly, a humble man has God’s perspective on material things. It all belongs to God and biblical stewardship dominants the humble life. A proud individual complains that he does not have enough, but a humble man is amazed that he has so much.
Lastly, the humble Christian will wash the feet of others. There is no job too low for the servant. He is not impressed with the purple robes of the rich man, but he is moved with the sores of Lazarus. The alcoholic and the drug user are mission fields to a humble man. He runs to the hurting, not away from them. He realizes, “Except for the grace of God, there I would be.”
Not thinking and talking about humility does not make you any less proud. That is like the man who refuses to pray for patience because he does not want any trial or hardship to enter his life. Take inventory and take heed. There is the path of pride and there is the path of humility. Walk in the Spirit and you will be walking on the right path.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” – Phil. 2:5-8