The worse we realize we are, the greater we realize God’s grace is.
Humility isn’t pretending we’re unworthy because it’s spiritual – it’s recognizing we’re unworthy because it’s true.
Should you ask me what is the first thing in religion; I should reply that the first, second, and third thing therein is humility.
The very design of the gospel is to abase us; and the work of grace is begun and carried on in humiliation. Humility is not a mere ornament of a Christian, but an essential part of the new creature. It is a contradiction in terms, to be a Christian, and not humble.
A believing man will be a humble man. He will think little and speak little about himself. True faith carries us above this pride, self-esteem, and vainglory… He will…refrain from giving prominence to self in any of his proceedings. His great object will be to hide self; and not only to forget it himself, but to make others forget it too. The man that is still proud, boastful, vainglorious, self-confident has good reason to suppose that he has never yet believed.
Humility, then, is a recognition that we are at the same time “worm Jacob” and a mighty threshing sledge – completely weak and helpless in ourselves, but powerful and useful by the grace of God.
The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51.3). A humble soul sees that he can stay no more from sin, than the heart can from panting, and the pulse from beating. He sees his heart and life to be fuller of sin, than the firmament is of stars; and this keeps him low. He sees that sin is so bred in the bone, that till his bones, as Joseph’s, be carried out of the Egypt of this world, it will not out. Though sin and grace were never born together, and though they shall not die together, yet while the believer lives, these two must live together; and this keeps him humble.
Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.
But the greater [a person] appears to be; the more humble he ought to be, and the more ready to seek the common good in preference to his own.
Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have.
In God’s program, growing means becoming smaller. As Jesus put it, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Greatness in His kingdom is a gift God gives to the humble, not a prize to be grasped by the proud.
Spiritual emotions result in Christian practice because their object is the loveliness of spiritual things, not our self-interest. People have a defective Christianity because they are seeking their own interests in it, not God’s. So they accept Christianity only to the extent that they think it serves their interests. By contrast, a person who accepts it for its own excellent and lovely nature, accepts everything which has that nature.
Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble saint is most jealous of himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints…and to be quick to notice their deficiencies. But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home, and sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts… Pure Christian humility disposes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, and to make the most of it, and to diminish their failings, but to give his eye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself.
Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility.
There was no part of creature holiness that I had so great a sense of loveliness as humility, as brokenness of heart and poverty in spirit. There is nothing that I longed for more earnestly. My heart panted after this, to lie low before God as in the dust that I might be nothing and that God might be all.
Humility may be defined to be a habit of mind and heart corresponding to our comparative unworthiness and vileness before God, or a sense of our own comparative meanness in His sight, with the disposition to a behavior answerable thereto.
The more excellent something is the more likely it will be imitated. There are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about making counterfeit pebbles? However, the more excellent things are the more difficult it is to imitate them in their essential character and intrinsic virtues. Yet the more variable the imitations be, the more skill and subtlety will be used in making them an exact imitation. So it is with Christian virtues and graces. The devil and men’s own deceitful hearts tend to imitate those things that have the highest value. So no graces are more counterfeited than love and humility. For these are the virtues where the beauty of a true Christian is seen most clearly.
Does God ask us to do what is beneath us? This question will never trouble us again if we consider the Lord of heaven taking a towel and washing feet.
Pride is blindness to our faults, sins, and failings. Most importantly, pride is blind to the existence of itself. Therefore, the more proud you are, the more humble you will feel, and the more humble you are, the more proud you will feel. That is because true humility is the opening of the eyes to our personal sin, and one of the first things a humble person becomes aware of is his or her pride.
They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves, cannot be proud.
Characteristics of the Humble:
1. I am amazed that the infinite, holy, all-powerful God loves me and wants to have a relationship with me.
2. I often think about how much greater God is than I am.
3. I understand my weaknesses, and I am willing to talk about them with others.
4. When I serve others, my primary goals are to bless them and honor God.
5. I enjoy leading so I can serve others as I use my gifts.
6. I enjoy following so I can assist the leader and serve others.
7. I do not mind serving in private ways, even if I am never recognized or thanked.
8. I often ask others for advice.
9. I regularly study the Bible for guidance and direction.
10. I compare my life to the standards of God.
Humility is having an accurate, low view of ourselves and seeing ourselves as God sees us.
So what can we do to grow in humility?
1. Pray for more humility.
2. Understand the immense difference between God and us.
3. Be aware of your weaknesses and limitations.
4. Study God’s promises to the humble.
5. Study creation.
6. Spend time with people who are more gifted than you are.
7. Learn a new skill.
8. Spend time with humble people.
9. Spend time with people who are honest with you about yourself.
10. Serve others.
A lion in God’s cause must be a lamb in his own.
When really weak in ourselves, and conscious of that weakness, we are in the state suited to the manifestation of the power of God. When emptied of ourselves, we are filled with God. Those who think they can change their own hearts, atone for their own sins, subdue the power of evil in their own souls or in the souls of others, who feel able to sustain themselves under affliction, God leaves to their own resources. But when they feel and acknowledge their weakness, he communicates to them divine strength.
Christian humility does not consist in denying what there is of good in us; but in an abiding sense of ill-desert, and the consciousness that what we have of good is due to the grace of God.
Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, our great-grandfather nothing.
Humility is nothing else but a right judgment of ourselves.
God’s choice acquaintances are humble men.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.
Humility is knowing that everything that happened for the good was God, and everything that happened for the bad was you.
Humility is terribly elusive, because if focused on too much it will turn into pride, its very opposite. Humility is a virtue to be highly sought but never claimed, because once claimed it is forfeited.
Humility, one’s humble stance before the Lord is the virtue that produces faithfulness.
I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other; and it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.
A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility.
In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail. The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of Christ are his portion.
The greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us. In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility. The holiest will be the humblest.
Just as water seeks to fill the lowest places, so God fills you with His glory and power when He finds you empty and abased.
I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master.
Two of the most godly and disarming ways to display humility are accountability and correctability (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
Biblical humility is not some self-induced groveling or hang-dog attitude. Biblical humility is seeing ourselves as we are. Humility is a response to beholding the holiness of God (G.A. Pritchard).
There are two things that are suited to humble the soul of men, a due consideration of God, and then ourselves. Of God, in His greatness, glory, holiness, power, majesty and authority; ourselves, in our mean, abject and sinful condition.
The focus of health in the soul is humility, while the root of inward corruption is pride. In the spiritual life, nothing stands still. If we are not constantly growing downward into humility, we shall be steadily swelling up and running to seed under the influence of pride.
Growth in grace is growth downward. It is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves. It is a deepening realization of our nothingness. It is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.
Humility is the repentance of pride.
Just as pride is the root of every evil, humility is the root of every virtue.
Pride is a sinner’s torment, but humility a saint’s ornament.
We cannot have one spark of real humility till we are abased before God, as guilty, helpless, and undone creatures, who have no hope but in the tender mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
Humble people are weak in themselves. Humble people then because of that weakness depend on the Lord. And those who depend on the Lord are really strong because they are strong in His strength and not their own.
What does in mean to be spiritually poor? It means to be humble. It means to understand that you have no merit to offer to God. It means to understand that all you deserve is hell. It means to understand that you are spiritually bankrupt. It means to understand the unfathomable riches of Christ that by God’s sovereign grace have been accredited to your account. It means to boast not in yourself, but in Christ. It means emptying yourself of all your pride that the Holy Spirit might fill you with all of Christ… The humble pursuit of spiritual poverty is the path to true happiness. Empty of self, filled with the Holy Spirit and His fruit of joy.
You are not mature if you have a high esteem of yourself. He who boasts in himself is but a babe in Christ, if indeed he be in Christ at all. Young Christians may think much of themselves. Growing Christians think themselves nothing. Mature Christians know that they are less than nothing. The more holy we are, the more we mourn our infirmities, and the humbler is our estimate of ourselves.
The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought… “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.
The best definition of humility I ever heard was this – to think rightly of ourselves.
Every Christian has a choice between being humble or being humbled
If a man tells me that he is humble, I know him to be profoundly proud.
Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to say to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
Taken from The Message of Galatians by John R.W. Stott. Copyright(c) 1968 John R. W. Stott. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com. http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=288, p. 179.
Only a morbid fanatic can take pleasure in the sufferings he inflicts upon himself; only an insensitive fool can take pleasure in the sufferings that are the consequences of his folly; and only a convinced Christian can take pleasure in sufferings endured “for Christ’s sake,” for he alone has been initiated into the divine secret, that it is only when he is “weak,” having thrown himself unreservedly in penitence and humility upon the never-failing mercies of God, that he is “strong,” with a strength not his own, but belonging to the Lord of all power and might.
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or the other at all.
The source of humility is the habit of realizing the presence of God.
He is truly great who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor.
Remember, it is not your weakness that will get in the way of God’s working through you, but your delusions of strength. His strength is made perfect in our weakness! Point to His strength by being willing to admit your weakness.
There is nothing that will put you in your place, nothing that will correct your distorted view of yourself, nothing that will yank you out of your functional arrogance, or nothing that will take the winds out of the sails of your self-righteousness like standing, without defense, before the awesome glory of God.
Humility is a strange thing. As a rule, once you discover you have it you lose it. Humility is like a rare flower — put it on display and it instantly wilts and loses its fragrance! Humility is one character trait that can never come out of the closest; it is not something to announce from the rooftop…No, humility is not something to be announced. For then, if you can imagine the irony of this, you have become proud of your humility.
Humility is a paradox. The moment you think you’ve finally found it, you’ve lost it. There has yet to be written a book entitled, "Humility and How I Achieved It." And yet, God expects (and rewards) an attitude of servant-like humility in His followers.
Humility: The beginning of perfection is to be little in self. The increase in perfection is to be less. The end of perfection is to be nothing at all.
Humility is backing away from a fight that you know that you can win.
Being humble is not thinking less of yourself, it is think of yourself less.
When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set at naught, and you sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ-that is dying to self. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take all in patient loving silence-that is dying to self. When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus endured it-that is dying to self. When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any attitude, any interruption by the will of God-that is dying to self. When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown-that is dying to self. When you see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances-that is dying to self. When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart-that is dying to self.
Humility is the only certain defense against humiliation.
A humble sinner is in a better condition than a proud angel.
The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes.
The Christian community tips its hat to the nobility of meekness, but in practice pride often wins the day.
Ironically, asking someone to cultivate humility is a bit like asking him to think about himself without thinking about himself.
Humility is forged in the fires of an unmistakably clear vision of God, a biblically rich and abiding perspective of the cross, and a robust sense of man’s desperate sin-condition! When confronted with these realities, our deficiencies are properly magnified and successes are never allowed to take on a life of their own. A right view of God instantly brings us to the end of ourselves.
Our fleshly ambitions are duly starved when we yield to the plans and purposes of God, especially when our questions go unanswered. The cross of Christ teaches us to rest in the knowledge that, if God was willing to reconcile us while we were enemies, we can trust Him to lead us in the way of abundant life. Humility is the fruit of willingly coming under His perfect leadership.