The Benefits of Humility

by Lester Young

We’re all probably pretty clear on what we think ‘humility’ is, and it’s likely that the average opinion would hit fairly close to the mark. Unfortunately, our average opinion is not the one that really matters. So let’s dig around a little and see what God’s concept of humility is.

Jesus Himself gives us two parables that shed a revealing light on humility by focusing on the polar opposite: pride. The first, found in Luke 14:8-11 (New Living Translation), tells us: “When you’re invited to a wedding feast, don’t [just automatically go and try to] sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you’ll have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves [with self-worth or importance; pride] will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The second parable explains it this way: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer to himself: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner – not the Pharisee – returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves [with self-righteousness; pride] will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14 New Living Translation).

So, we can see that having an overly-inflated opinion of yourself – one arising from your own personal estimations of you; i.e., your accomplishments, your good deeds, your (or your parents’) money, your PhD, your managerial position, your good looks, your sweet smell, your yada yada yada ad infinitum – is both the human and Divine definition of ‘pride.’ And it brings the meaning of its opposite, ‘humility,’ into clear focus: not having that blown-up, big-headed impression of yourself. Simple.

But – as usual – Heaven’s concept of humility takes things a little further, adding an aspect that our naturals minds wouldn’t normally come up with. The Apostle Peter tells us that God resists prideful people, but He gives grace to those acting in the opposite manner – those who are operating in humility, who have humbled themselves (1 Peter 5:5 paraphrased). And just so we wouldn’t have any questions or excuses, the next two verses after that give us very specific instructions on exactly what to do and how to do it: “Therefore humble yourself [demote, lower yourself in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:6-7 Amplified).

We’re to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand – and since He and His Word are One and the same (John 1:1), it simply means we have to place ourselves below His Word and esteem It first-place in our lives. Put bluntly: Whatever His Word says goes, period! It’s our first choice, and It’s the end of the matter – regardless of what the matter may be. Whether or not you like It, whether or not you understand It, whether or not your feelings or intellect or circumstances are telling you something different, even whether or not you personally agree with It – you consciously place that Word above all else; and you pattern your choices, behavior and life according to It. It also means you take that next step and do what verse 7 directs: to cast the whole of your care (that’s all your anxieties, worries and concerns) over onto the Lord – because it’s a command, not a suggestion; and we’re to respect it as such.

Whatever the Word says, you say in repetition. Whatever the Word says about you, you say about yourself. If God tells you in His Word, for example, that you’re a king, then instead of opposing what He’s said by disagreeing with it through your mouth, you humble yourself under that Word by agreeing with Him and saying, “Yes, Sir; I’m a king!” If His Word says you’re healed, in humility you affirm, “I’m healed!” regardless of how badly your toe is hurting. If the Word says you’re triumphant and more than a conqueror, then you humbly repeat, “Thank You, Lord, because I’m triumphant and more than a conqueror!” It doesn’t matter that you feel like even mosquitoes have been beating you up and taking your lunch money lately.

When you think about it, disagreeing with God is actually no more than blatant pride in action – I mean, who but a prideful person would dare to willfully and openly say something in direct opposition to what God has declared, as if he or she knew the deal better than Him? But saying after God exactly what He says about you shows your active humility to His sovereignty in your life. It shows faith in His Word to you (Psalm 116:10; 2 Corinthians 4:13). When you do it, you’re actually telling Him, “Amen! Be it unto me according to your Word, Lord!” (Luke 1:38; 2 Corinthians 1:20) And when that happens, you give the High Priest of our Confession license to move on your behalf and begin bringing that Word to pass in your life (Hebrews 3:1). Ah, the benefits of Humility!

Now, in case you weren’t completely sure, the Word actually does say, “You’re a king!” (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 19:16) It really does say, “You’re healed!” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24) And it also calls you “triumphant” and “more than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:14).

I’ll close with a short Pop Quiz: God’s Word says you’re rich, too (2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Timothy 6:17; Revelation 2:9).

Now…what do you say?

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2 Comments to “The Benefits of Humility”

  1. Lester, I appreciate your teaching, you know that but I also find strength in the fact that you back it up with reference to God’s Word.

    • Thanks, Sandra.
      Any teaching that’s worth anything should be based on some truth. Without clearly pointing out where I’m getting what I’m saying, my words would collapse as simply my own opinion. On the contrary, I want your faith (and everyone’s) to not rest in what I say just because I said it, but to rest in God’s Word because He said it.

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