Volume. XXXVII, No. 3
Sunday, 17 July 2022

Humility—The Elusive Virtue Part 1

Nearly anyone who claims humility lacks it. What is humility? How can you cultivate it?

Next to love, humility probably stands out more clearly than any other virtue in the Bible.

Greek philosophers usually looked down on this virtue. Modern day athletes get praise for arrogant displays after touchdowns and home runs. But Christ says humility is the real virtue God seeks to build in us.

God resists the proud and is on the side of the humble with all the grace they need (1 Pet 5:5). Why is this virtue so prized by God? Why is it so neglected by man?

A theology that focuses on man's works to fulfill God's law promotes pride. But a theology of grace and mercy promotes humility. Prideful self-rule is diametrically opposed to the gracious rule of God in our lives. But humility is the natural outgrowth of a life based on the Christian theology of God's grace and mercy.



Humility appears supremely in the character of God. He is incomparably magnificent and powerful, yet He is humble enough to relate to and identify with fallen man (Isa 57:15). In responding to the prayers of the humble, He shows Himself a humble, forgiving God. The pleas of the humble are answered with "more than they ask or think" (Eph 3:20). The humble gratefully receive God's promises without the "claims" demanded by a works-oriented mentality. Salvation by grace goes hand in hand with humility.

Former President Harry Truman used to say, "I was here by accident and I try to remember where I came from and where I'm going back to." He studied history and noted how men who were impressed with themselves were poor leaders and failed to make needed decisions. These "highhats," as Truman called them, were modern Pharisees whose lives were counterfeit.

Did God make a mistake by making you 5'10" and a basketball player and not 6'10" and an All-American? Just think how much glory you could give Him as a star! Why didn't He give you the brains to be a famous scientist who could win the Nobel prize for a great discovery ‘for mankind's benefit and God's glory’? Why didn't He make me more gifted—or at least, rich?

"I can't sing." "I'm not very intelligent (but not dumb)." "I can't  . . .." "If only I could do  . . ., God would get so much more glory."

But if He isn't glorified in your limited gifts, how would He be glorified if you were more gifted? Can you not give Him glory with what you have? This type of thinking shows that we don't believe God knows what He's doing when He makes the less gifted, the poor, and the afflicted. But the humble of this world are objects of God's grace (Jas 2:5). The outward appearance that man sees (1 Sam 16:7) deceives us and robs us of the desire to develop this virtue.



Yet even when it is believed to be a virtue, we often falsify humility by a counterfeit: self-abasement. Paul exposed this as self-exalting, religious pride that says, " Touch not; taste not; handle not;"—rules he says are " . . . to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." (Col 2:21–23).

False humility demands that God applaud our self-denial, but true humility makes no claim on Him. True humility submits to His reign. It makes no claim on a brother, but serves and loves him. Position, prestige, privilege, and partiality fall before the humble.

The error of the Pharisees was preaching humility and not practising it (Matt 23:3). They were not submissive to the purposes and will of God, but rejected baptism (Luke 7:30), which would have identified them with sinners like the Gentiles. They majored on deeds to be noticed (Matt 23:5).

But how can we take pride in our work and still be humble? The key is in how much we need to be noticed for our work and how many hints we drop to get praise from others.






One of the definitions of humility is ‘lowliness’. Since many of us think of lowliness in the same category as "Lowly, the worm," in Richard Scary's children's books, we don't want to be considered and treated like worms. To be humiliated or abased is even worse.

Yet to be abased is to be brought to the ground, made level, reduced to plain. When that happens, we realize our truly humble condition—what Truman called "where I came from and where I'm going back to." When we realize this, we cry with Job, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5–6).

A sudden accomplishment or the receipt of a gift should not cause pride in the lowly in mind. Am I impressed with myself? Then I should ask myself, " . . . who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Cor 4:7). " Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;" Paul wrote, " but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Phil 2:3).

God showed His approval of humility and His disapproval of pride when He raised Christ from the dead, vindicated Moses because he was "the meekest of men" (Num 12:3), and judged Belshazzar because he refused to learn humility from what Nebuchadnezzar experienced (Dan 5:22–23).

In Paul, humility showed itself by the acceptance of hunger and prosperity, abundance and need, being filled and in want, suffering and imprisonment (Phil 4:11–12).



Humility is summed up in the Person of Jesus Christ, " 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 2:6–8).

In the Old Testament, God taught His people Israel that the attitude of closed minded pride (Psa 107:11–12) is not fitting for the people of God whose life and prosperity are due to His kindness and power. His power and sovereign rule must not be ignored. Humility is equated with loyalty to God.

The power of humility can be seen when we apologize for offenses against others, when we praise others for their accomplishments, and when we build true friendships. As a young boy of eight, I thought it was smart to swear—until another boy humiliated me by condemning my swearing. This humbling made me give up swearing for the rest of my life, even though I was not a Christian. Humility changes our relationships and makes us candidates for the blessing of God (1 Pet 5:5).

From November/December 1984 (Issue #24) of Discipleship Journal

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome to our pulpit: Rev David Weng.
  • Sunday school training updates will be shared in the chat group. Please contact deacon in charge if interested.
  • Batam Appeal: An amount of $5,645 still needed. Please designate offerings with ‘Batam Appeal’.
  • Masks are not required but strongly encouraged to be worn while indoors.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Integrated Fellowship Camp: Speaker (Rev Kyle Graham), organisers and all those who attended.
  • Gappi Filadelfia’s 18th Anniversary Thanksgiving (Batam)
  • Journey mercies: Rev Kyle Graham (Port Lincoln), IF campers (Woodhouse); those who have travelled.
  • Those who have recovered from COVID.



  • Missions: IBPFM Missionaries.
  • Healing: Pastor Ki & & those with COVID.
  • Journey mercies: those who are travelling.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041