Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.Ephesians 4:2 NIV
One thing God wants from us is to display true humility: “be completely humble and gentle. This is a challenge, especially because pride is a big part of living in the Bay Area.
We are proud of our work ethic, our innovation, our environmental awareness, our wealth and even our ability to play hard on the weekends.
We often don’t think of pride as a bad thing; we think pride is the same as confidence, but in the Bible they are very different. Pride means I don’t like needing help, I feel embarrassed to expose my weaknesses, I don’t like seeing my mistakes and my schedule is so busy I don’t have much time to help anyone else.
My pride comes out in my constant desire to be in control. I want to be in control of how others perceive me and I want to look strong. However, this often comes at the cost of putting others down. Because I want to convince myself and others that I’m good, it’s easy to focus on other people’s weaknesses, rather than revealing my own. I also find that one of the reasons God doesn’t always work through me is because of my pride.
What I’m learning is that true humility is not about how bad I can feel, how much I can grovel, or how penitent I can sound, but it’s really about making others greater. C. S. Lewis once said,
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
I find this extremely true. The friends of mine who inspire me the most are actually the most humble; they serve others and make other people greater. They are couples with full time jobs and kids who still make time to help others, mentor others, and volunteer. They believe they are here for a reason and want to make a difference with their lives, using their strengths and weaknesses to give others hope.
Before we can tap into the power of humility, we have to first look at what pride really is and what it does to our relationship with God and others.
1. What does pride do to my relationships?
Because he is proud, that evil person doesn’t turn to the Lord. There is no room for God in any of his thoughts.Psalm 10:4 – NIRV
Proud people ignore God. They get stubborn and don’t like to pray. They feel they don’t have time to read the Bible or pray. Someone who is proud will listen and learn more from themselves and their own emotions than from God, the Bible or spiritual friends.
Silence their lying lips— those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly.Psalm 31:18 NLT
Pride has a victim mentality. Prideful people manipulate and try to control others by accusing them instead of taking responsibility. When we are proud we don’t want to feel bad so we justify our own guilty actions and sin by making others at fault.
How much do you blame others like your spouse or your parents or your boss when you are stressed instead of taking responsibility for your choices?
These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others.Psalm 73:7-8 NLT
Pride crushes the spirit and hope of others. To scoff at someone means to criticize, demean, belittle, and makes others feel worthless and to promote yourself ahead or above them. This can be a hard one to admit, but ask yourself how upset do you feel when someone else gets the success you want? Prideful people get discouraged when they don’t get what they want so they have a very hard time enjoying anyone else’s success.
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’Obadiah 1:3 NIV
Pride deceives us. We get self-deceived; we think we are fine and tell ourselves we are fine when we aren’t. We hide our personal sins, needs and weaknesses. We start flattering ourselves and thinking we are “beyond” certain sins.
2. What Does True Humility Do to Others?
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:28-29 NIV
Humility energizes others, unburdens others, and gives people new hope. Jesus was humble; he saw his need for God’s help, and as a result he had energy to help other people. He wasn’t too tired or stressed to care about other people’s needs.
How often do you feel too tired and stressed to help other people? What do you think this reflects about your level of humility?
The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.Isaiah 29:19 NLT
When we’re humble, we’re joyful, and we are able to refresh others. Humble people accept help so they are able to see God taking care of them. They don’t get jealous of other people’s joy but they allow others to be happy. Because God moves in their lives they give other people reason to hope that God will work for them too.
Humility Inspires Greatness
“You give me your shield, which is salvation, your right hand holds me up, your humility makes me great.Psalm 18:35 CJB
Humility actually makes us great, not talent or sheer brute strength. Why does humility make us great? Humility makes us great learners, allows God to help us, and makes us willing to serve. How do you feel about humility? Do you think of it as a punishment? Or something that will make you greater?
3. True Humility Gives Us the Power to be Fruitful
If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love. Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.Philippians 2:1-5 Voice
When we are humble we make space for God to move in our lives. God has the power to change us, forgive us, and believe in us. Humility allows God to move instead of trying to change ourselves. His power enables us to overcome our past, which further humbles us, then he compels us to share it with others. When we share our past with others, God can rejuvenate, refresh and inspire those around us to discover how a relationship with God can change their lives, give them hope, and overcome what was seemingly impossible.
This is how Jesus lived, and that is why his life was so powerful and so fruitful. When we are humble, we get the power to be fruitful. Fruitfulness is the ability to make other people’s lives better and greater. It is using our lives to make a lasting impact on the world around us.
Fruitfulness is what enables you able to help your spouse or their kids become who they are meant to be. Fruitfulness is what enables you to help someone else become great at work or in their relationships. Fruitfulness is the power of humility in action.
Questions to reflect on:
1. What do my weekly schedule and priorities reflect regarding who I live for? Self or Others? (2 Cor. 5:14-15)
2. What am I unwilling to sacrifice to make others greater? (John 12:24)
3. What sin keeps me from having a powerful relationship with God that changes the lives of others?(John 15:1-17)