The term “humble pie” usually brings to mind shame, not something sweet like our Thanksgiving pies. Perhaps we rarely think about humility, but how important is it? The Greek word mainly translated “humble” or “humility” is tapeinos and means “not rising far from the ground or lowly.” That is a rather difficult definition to swallow when we think of how we need to be living that way, not only towards God, but towards one another.
Humility towards God is essential and incredibly valuable. Scripture tells us that, in humility, we can receive God’s word “implanted, which is able to save [our] souls” (Jam 1:21). If we never have the humility to submit in obedience to God’s word, salvation will elude us. Humility is partly the sobriety of considering our identity versus the identity of God. That sobriety can humble us to fear and obey the Almighty. Proverbs 22:4 says, “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.” Suddenly, humility becomes extremely important.
Humility is not only essential in our obedience to the gospel, but in our entire walk of faith. Lack of humility and, therefore, lack of submission and obedience is what puts our souls in danger. Have you ever known someone who studies God’s word, but refuses to accept it as the truth or refuses to submit to it? Of course you have; we all have. What did they lack? They lacked the humility of spirit to allow God to reign as sovereign in their hearts, minds, and lives.
Lack of humility leads to a lack of submission and a lack of obedience, which is essentially a lack of faith. All of this puts our souls in jeopardy. Do you still think humility is not that big of a deal? I would suggest to you that humility is enormously important. Just imagine if we all humbly submitted to the full counsel of God. What a life!
Humility towards God leads to humility towards one another, as Philippians 2:3 says: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” Do you really think and act like others are more important than you? At best, I think we consider ourselves equal. That is not how low we are to think of ourselves. We are to consider ourselves lower than others. Does that make you uncomfortable? Maybe not in word, but try that on in deed. It’s more important that the guy in the other car gets to his destination than you do. It’s more important that your child’s in-laws see the grandkids for the holidays instead of you. It’s more important that your husband has a break than for you to have one. Maybe that seems eccentric to you, but hopefully you begin to see the point. You can’t just say people are more important. How do you prove that you believe that? You put their needs before your own, or, “consider them more important.”
I know from my own experience that humility is a valuable tool that I so often forget to utilize. Look around at the relationships you have with people. How would they change if you practiced Philippians 2:3 genuinely and were more humble in all things? How many arguments would be avoided? How greatly would humble words and tones affect your interactions? How much jealousy, envy, bitterness, anger, slander, and the like would dissipate?
Look around at the relationships you have with people. How would they change if you practiced Philippians 2:3 genuinely and were more humble in all things?
Sadly, we all know of failed relationships in the church that could have been avoided through humility. It could have been among the eldership, friends, a marriage, or other family members. Contemplate what would change in these relationships if one or both parties humbled themselves to one anther and in obedience to God. How many church divisions would be avoided? How many marriages and families would still be intact? How much more productive and pleasing to God would we be? How differently would we look from the world?
It pains me sometimes to hear us, as God’s people, completely throw humility out the window to preserve our “rights” or to make sure everyone knows we aren’t pushovers. Countless times I’ve heard “mama bear” stories or “I showed them” tales – and told them myself at times. Obviously, we have a duty to protect our children, but not in the ways that we often do. We cannot justify a lack of humility in the name of “wanting the best” for our children or in order to appear equal or superior to others. I assure you that ignoring God’s will is never the best for our children or for ourselves. My point is that we really need to take an honest look at our lives. Humility should dominate it.
We are so afraid of being a doormat that we are willing to turn a blind eye to God’s word on this subject. The truth is that our response is simply a lack of faith that God will fight our battles. True humility comes from wisdom, strength, and faith. The older I get, the more I realize I do not have to worry about what others think of me or what they will get away with. I need only to focus on being humble and obedient to God. He will handle the rest. I may suffer a lot in this life in order to be humble towards others, but God will reward me for it, and isn’t that what I should be seeking?
I once heard a preacher at a family camp speak about family life. He emphasized humility and the difference it can make. Humility of the father, the mother, and the children. He was so right. Our family has been transformed each and every time that someone has grown in humility. When we obey God’s word, it does transform us. Test God and see if He is not faithful in this. I will just leave you with the plea to humble yourself to study the topic of humility from the Scriptures, to honestly evaluate humility in your own life, to step out on faith and practice a greater humility, and to remember that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).