Walking Humbly Before the Lord: What the Bible Says about Humility
by Alfred Ells, M.C.
…And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Perhaps you have heard the story of the parishioner who received recognition for being the humblest man in the church? They gave him a pin to wear. The following Sunday he wore it and they took it away from him for being proud. One wonders sometimes if humility is like this. As soon as we think we are humble, we are not.
Humility vs. Pride
Biblically speaking, personal humility carries the notion of lowering or abasing oneself in such a manner as to attain a place of lowliness. Perhaps the best way to understand humility is attempting to see ourselves through God’s eyes rather than our own.
The noted preacher, Charles Spurgeon, defined humility as,” (making) a right estimate of one’s self.” Another noted speaker stated that, “Humility is not denying the power or gifting you have, but admitting that the gifting is from God and the power comes through you and not from you.” After World War II, Winston Churchill humbly commented that, “I was not the lion, but it fell to me to give the lion’s roar.”
In the last issue of Counselor’s Corner, the focus was on unmasking the hidden pride we all have. To truly repent, or put off pride also requires that we embrace, or put on humility. As James 4:10 states, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you..” The following is a list of twelve suggestions I have gleaned from others on how to humble yourself. As you will see, most of them are basics of our Christian faith.
Twelve Ways to Humble Yourself
- Routinely confess your sin to God. (Luke 18:9-14) All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, too few of us have a routine practice of rigorous self-honesty examination. Weekly, even daily, review of our heart and behavior, coupled with confession to God, is an essential practice of humility.
- Acknowledge your sin to others. (James 3:2, James 5:16) Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility before man. A true test of our willingness to humble ourselves is being willing to share with others the weaknesses we confess to God. Wisdom, however, dictates that we do so with others that we trust.
- Take wrong patiently. (1 Peter 3:8-17) This has been a difficult one for me. When something is unjust I want to react and rectify it. However, patiently responding to the unjust accusations and actions of others demonstrates our strength of godly character and provides an opportunity to put on humility.
- Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad! (1 Peter 2:18) Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed as authorities in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.
- Receive correction and feedback from others graciously. (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1) In the Phoenix area, a local East valley pastor was noted for graciously receiving any negative feedback or correction offered. He would simply say “thank you for caring enough to share that with me, I will pray about it and get back to you.” Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”
- Accept a lowly place. (Proverbs 25:6,7) If you find yourself wanting to sit at the head table, wanting others to recognize your contribution or become offended when others are honored or chosen, then pride is present. Purpose to support others being recognized, rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place; it is the place of humility.
- Purposely associate with people of lower state than you. (Luke 7:36-39) Jesus was derided by the Pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.
- Choose to serve others. (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11) When we serve others, we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God instead of the Kingdom of self. When serving another costs us nothing, we should question whether or not it is really servanthood.
- Be quick to forgive. (Matthew 18: 21-35) Forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest acts of humility we can do. To forgive is to acknowledge a wrong that has been done us and also to further release our right of repayment for the wrong. Forgiveness is denial of self. Forgiveness is not insisting on our way and our justice.
- Cultivate a grateful heart. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) The more we develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift of salvation and life He has given us, the more true our perspective of self. A grateful heart is a humble heart.
- Purpose to speak well of others. (Ephesians 4:31-32) Saying negative things about others puts them “one down” and us “one up”…a form of pride. Speaking well of others edifies them and builds them up instead of us. Make sure, however, that what you say is not intended as flattery.
- Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross. (Luke 9:23) It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to self and living through Him is the foundation for true humility.
This article was taken from the Counselor’s Corner, Volume II, Issue 12, published by Counselor’s Corner. Used with permission.
Alfred Ells is a senior therapist with New Life Clinic, a Christ-centered counseling and educational ministry. He is a gifted marriage and family counselor, seminar speaker and author of several best-selling books, including One Way Relationships, Released to Love and Family Love.
Al has been counseling and consulting with churches, organizations and individuals for over twenty years. He earned his Masters of Counseling degree at Arizona State University. He founded “House of Hope Counseling;” assisted in the establishment of “Hope Community (Rapha-Hope)” in Scottsdale; a Christ-centered residential addictions treatment facility, “Remuda Ranch;” a Christ-centered program for women with anorexia or bulimia, located in Wickenburg, Arizona, and “Life Gate;” a residential treatment facility for adolescents and their families.
Al resides in Mesa, Arizona with his wife Susan. They have four children.
E-mail Al at: firstname.lastname@example.org Or write to: Alfred H. Ells, M.C., Counselor’s Corner, 2855 East Brown Road, Suite 3, Mesa, Arizona 85213, U.S.A. Phone:(480) 325-9350.
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