Bible Truth Examiner

Graces of Christian Character

HUMILITY

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of

himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to

every man the measure of faith.”

 

Romans 12: 3

 

Humility may be defined as a sober or proper self-estimate. Humility has four elements:

(1) self-distrust; (2) self-dissatisfaction; (3) self-disrespect; and (4) self-abasement.

 

But these ingredients of humility can be exaggerated into faults. Self-distrust can be cultivated

and exercised to such an extreme as to make one incapable of accomplishing what he is capable

of accomplishing, thus making a failure of himself and his undertakings. Self-dissatisfaction can

also be cultivated and exercised to such an extreme as to completely discourage one from

undertaking what he is capable of undertaking. Self-disrespect can be cultivated and exercised to

such an extreme of self-abhorrence as to mar or ruin everything that one undertakes. Likewise,

one’s self-abasement can be so exaggerated as to mar or ruin everything that he undertakes.

 

Pride, the opposite of humility, is an improper, untrue, incorrect self-estimate. Its elements

consist of an overweening self-confidence, self-satisfaction and self-respect, that manifests itself

in egotism, haughtiness, vainglory and self-righteousness. It is one of the worst disgraces of

character, and is soundly condemned in the Scriptures. Satan is the classic example of pride

(Isaiah 14: 12-20).

 

The Great Importance of Humility

 

Humility lies at the basis of repentance and faith in Christ, without which justification is

impossible; for it requires humility to recognize that we are sinners, and to accept justification as

a free gift from God through Jesus’ merit. It lies at the basis of our learning the Truth, for

without it we cannot humble ourselves to be taught (Matthew 11: 25, 26). Humility also lies at

the basis of consecration – deadness to self and the world and aliveness to God – for without

humility how could we give up our wills, and take the will of another as ours? Furthermore, it

requires humility to lay down our lives in God’s service, and to develop a Christlike character.

Finally, in order gain victory in the Christian warfare requires our giving up our ways and plans

of fighting the good fight of faith, and accepting those of the Captain of our Salvation.

 

Examples of Humility

 

The Bible is filled with examples of humility. How humbly Abraham drew near to intercede with

God for the people of Sodom (Genesis 18: 27)! Jacob confessed his unworthiness of any of

God’s mercies and truths (Genesis 32: 10). Moses was humble almost to a fault

(Exodus 3: 11; 4: 10). Humbly did David acknowledge his littleness and that of his family

(2 Samuel 7: 18, 19). Daniel attributed not to himself but to God his great and unique

understanding (Daniel 2: 30). John the Baptist exemplified it in his relations to our Lord

(Matthew 3: 11, 14). The Apostle Paul was one of the humblest of men, even referring to himself

as the “chief” of sinners (1 Timothy 1: 15). Next to God, Jesus, as the One who was “meek and

lowly in heart,” throughout His prehuman, human and post-human life, is the finest of all

examples of humility (Matthew 11: 29). But God is the supreme example of humility. He

stooped to make His Son our Savior, to reveal Himself to us, to teach us repentance, faith and

consecration, and to prepare us for eternal life (Isaiah 57: 15).

 

The Trial of Humility

 

Just as Jesus was tested on every point of character (Hebrews 4: 15), including humility, so too

must we be tested. Our humility is subjected to pride-alluring conditions, that under test it may

overcome them. These tests first come under easier conditions, and if faithfully endured, the

conditions are made more and more untoward. Humility is tried more severely than many of our

graces, doubtless to make us fall-proof amid conditions of exaltation.

 

Next to God, Jesus is the classic example of endurance of severe tests on His humility

(Philippians 2: 5-8, Rotherham), and that because of the high exaltation to follow His

faithfulness under tests (Philippians 2: 9-11). Every prominent servant of God has had, in

proportion to his wider use, specially crucial experiences along this line. In fact, every

overcomer of every class, either has, or will have to overcome amid tests of humility

(James 4: 6, 10) (1 Peter 5: 5, 6).

 

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