The Value of Humility

As I waited for a friend in the bicycle repair shop, I noticed a couple of facetious signs. One said “Company Rules: #1. The president is always right. #2. If the president is ever wrong, refer to rule #1.” And another quipped, “Those of you who think you know it all are particularly annoying to those of us who do.” Although they were posted in jest, we recognize our tendency to pride!

As we consider humility, let me challenge you to put aside any negative impressions about humility and meekness. As we take a closer look, I think we will discover some secrets about the kind of disposition that allows Christ’s life to be continually expressed through us.

This virtue must have special significance, for in one of Christ’s only self descriptions He said, “I am meek and lowly of heart” (Matt. 11:29). Someone has defined humility as “the virtue of giving proper credit to God and others for their contributions to my life.” Humility is not a minimizing of what God has done in me, for me, and through me; it is a sober-minded gratitude that gives all the glory to God!

Consider Andrew Murray’s comments about the humility we need as created beings.

“When God created the universe, it was with the one object of making the creature a partaker of His perfection and blessedness; and so showing forth in it the glory of His love and wisdom and power. God wished to reveal Himself in and through created beings by communicating to them as much of His own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving. But His communication was not a giving to the creature something which it could possess in itself, a certain life or goodness, of which it had the charge and disposal. By no means. But as God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One, who upholdeth all things by the word of His power, and in whom all things exist, the relation of the creature to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, universal dependence. [The creature’s] … chief care, its highest virtue, its only happiness, now and throughout eternity, is to present itself as an empty vessel, in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness.”[1]

We may be reluctant to pray for humility because we fear some embarrassment or failure as God’s method of instruction; (like when a prayer for patience is followed by affliction to teach us perseverance–ouch!). Yet the benefits of humbling ourselves before God are very beneficial to our spiritual life.

If we value wisdom we can’t afford to neglect humility. As Proverbs counsels us:

“Surely He [God] scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34).

“When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble [is] wisdom” (Prov. 11:2).

“A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Prov. 29:23).

“By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [Are] riches and honor and life” (Prov.22:4).

In order to fully appropriate Christ as our Life, we must turn away from the “self-life.” Paul said “Not I, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal 2:20). What more concise remedy could there be for the self-life than humility? As Christ promised, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).

Andrew Murray further affirmed,

“The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of humility, is the root of every sin and evil.”[2]

It has been observed that only the smaller birds sing. We don’t hear of an eagle or a hawk chirping a melody; the turkey or ostrich aren’t known for their musical sounds. Instead it is the smaller birds, like the canary, which produce the sweetest music. Likewise, the sweetness of God’s grace is expressed in and through believers who are humble before God, fully depending on His provision in Christ (James 4:6). May we humble ourselves daily so we can receive more grace!

Our Father, take this opportunity to reveal my tendencies to pride and self-will. As my Savior was meek and lowly of heart, so I yearn to be. As I realize my weakness, reveal to me Your sufficiency. In Christ’s name, amen.

[1] Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, p. 11,12. [allusions to Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17].

[2] Humility, p.12.

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