10th September 2020

What is True Humility?

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV 1984)

In our society people are often encouraged to show themselves in the best possible light. Those who are super-confident, competent or successful are held up as role models. If we go for a job interview it’s usually expected we’ll do what we can to emphasise our strengths and minimise our failings. Admitting you’re wrong or don’t know something is often perceived as a sign of weakness.

Yet as Christians we are to be humble and teachable. So what does humility really mean? At its simplest level it’s not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. People who are humble are modest not boastful, gentle not unkind, meek not over-bearing. Humble people don’t rush to get ahead, but instead recognise that who they are and what they’ve got to say are not really that important. Instead, they’re willing to take time to value others and listen to and learn from them.

If being humble means we mustn’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought, then how ought we to think of ourselves? I’d like to suggest that as Christians a good definition of humility is to see ourselves as we really are. And when we do that we realise the reality is that we are sinful. No matter how much we try to be good and loving, we still fall down and make mistakes. As Romans 3:10, 23 tell us, “There is no one righteous, not even one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As Christians, God wants us to realise we are broken people who can do nothing on our own. When we do that we realise just how much we need Jesus’ sacrifice. We need to humble ourselves before the very one who humbled himself to the point of death for us, as the header scripture says. At his feet we are all equal.

Tolstoy wrote this: “The Christian ideal changed and reversed everything so that, as the gospel puts it, ‘That which was exalted among men has become an abomination in the sight of God’ (Luke 16:15). The ideal is no longer the greatness of Pharaoh or of a Roman emperor, not the beauty of a Greek nor the wealth of Phoenicia, but humility, purity, compassion, love. The hero is no longer Dives, but Lazarus the beggar; not Mary Magdalene in the day of her beauty, but the day of her repentance.”

What happens when we do humble ourselves? “All of you, put on a spirit free of pride toward one another. Put it on as if it were your clothes. Do this because Scripture says, ‘God opposes those who are proud. But he gives grace to those who are humble.’ So make yourselves humble. Put yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Then he will honour you at the right time.” (I Peter 5:5-6). If we humble ourselves before God he gives us his grace and lifts us up with him in Jesus Christ!

Loving Father, thank you so much that Jesus was willing to humble himself even to the point of death. Help us to recognise the true reality of our need for him; that as we share in his humility we receive grace and are raised with him. Through his name we pray.

Study by Simon Williams


About the Author:
Simon Williams is active in the Cambridge Congregation of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Cambridgeshire
Farcet Village Hall
Main Street

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Except on the first Saturday of each month 2:00 pm at Comberton, Cambridge

Comberton Village Hall
Green End
CB23 7DY

Local Congregational Contact:
Richard Dempsey

Email:  richard.dempsey@btinternet.com

Telephone: 01858 437099

Local church website: www.cambridgeshirechurch.org.uk

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