Monday, April 12, 2010

True Humility

OK, I know what you're thinking. What can a former athlete and football coach possibly know about humility! Well, we often know the most about the area of our life that we struggle
with the most. The truth is that most people, who are involved in some type of leadership, are going to struggle with our pride and ego. In fact, I think that God specifically invented the game of golf just to keep me humble. Guess what, it worked!

I think that most people would say that humility is a good quality to have and yet in our society, it seems that self promotion is glorified. Look at some of the most popular reality shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and even Survivor. We see people on camera, bragging about how they are the best and will certainly win. If they don't do this, they are told that they don't have the amount of self confidence necessary to be successful. (By the way, I only know this because of the commercials; I don't really watch the shows) Is there a dichotomy in our culture, where we say that we value humility in a person, but in actuality, we look down such a person?

Well, no matter how the world looks at this, as Christians we need to see how God looks at it. Why is this an important topic? Look at what it says in both the book of James (4:6) and 1st Peter (5:5). "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." It goes on to say in 1st Peter 5:6, "Humble yourselves therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. That gets my attention, how about you? I want to know God's definition of humility and ask Him to make me that kind of person, don't you?

So what does the Bible say about humility and what qualities make up a humble person? I think that we often times have a wrong impression of what true humility is. If I were to ask you to describe the attributes of a humble person, what would you say? I think many people might list these characteristics:

  1. Quiet, timid, thinking that their opinions are not as valuable as others
  2. Always lets the other person have their way
  3. Never talk about themselves
  4. Thinks that everyone else is better than them at everything

Maybe you are thinking of other qualities as well. Go ahead and add them to this list. Maybe even think of a person that you know that defines the word humility for you. Here is how the dictionary defines the word humble;

: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission <a humble apology>
3 a
: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale :

Let's see if these hold up in the light of scripture. In the Old Testament there are a few different words used to describe "the humble". They referred to people of low circumstances, poor, oppressed or afflicted but was often translated as "meek" in the King James. One particular verse though stands out to me. In 2nd Chronicles 7:16, God says "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." In this case, the word is kana and it means, "To bend the knee". The idea here is that the children of Israel would bow and surrender their will to God's will and be in subjection to Him. I believe that this parallels what the New Testament teaches us about being humble.

The word used for humility in the Greek is tapeinophrisune. It is a compound of tapeinos (humiliated in circumstance or disposition) and phren (to rein in, specifically of the mind or cognitive faculties). This give us a little better understanding but to really know what a humble person looks like we must look to the perfect example of humility, Jesus Christ. Look at what it says in Phil 2:3-8

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

. Paul tells us that humility simply means not doing things out of selfish ambition, but considering others needs above our own, just the way our Savior did. He was a servant and we should have that same attitude, a servant's heart. But when we look at Jesus' life, did that mean He was always timid, never speaking up? Did He did never oppose anyone or tell people when they were wrong? Of course He did! Sometimes as a servant, it is necessary to speak the truth in love, as He often did to His disciples and even the leaders of Israel. Sometimes it is necessary to oppose forces of evil, just as He did when He drove the moneychangers out of the temple. You can't be timid and do that!

I believe that the key to being humble, as God certainly wants us to be, is not in personality traits, but in bowing our knee to God. We submit ourselves to Him and follow His will, as it says to do in the verse we read earlier, 1 Peter 5:6. We ask the Holy Spirit to give us a servant's heart and follow the example of Jesus. Then we can be free from a false humility, like that which Paul warns about in Col 3:23 and serve others the way He would have us serve. When we have the "mind of Christ," we then have true humility and take no credit for any service that we might render. We know that any good work is work done in the power of the Holy Spirit and all the glory goes to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!


1. Using a concordance, look up all the verses you can find with the words humble, humbled or humility in them. See if you can get a better understanding of what true humility is

2. In your prayer time, ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to be servant to someone that day and for the Holy Spirit to help you recognize it and give you the power to follow through

3. At the end of the day, reflect back on what happened. Was there an opportunity to be a servant? How did you respond? Thank the Lord for any victory you might have had. Ask and receive forgiveness for any failure. Praise Him for His love and goodness to you!

4 Try doing this each day for one week. See what God does!

God Bless you, Coach






1 comment:

  1. Great look at humility! Love the reminder that it means to bend the knee. What a beautiful word picture.