Humility is not natural to anyone. It goes completely against our nature to put others first, to yield in any way, to deny our right to promote ourselves. Our society, especially, encourages us to live contrary to humility. We are pushed to seek our own good, to climb that ladder at all costs, to fight for our rights, to defend ourselves against any offense. Indeed, in our culture those who exhibit humility are looked down upon as weak, and often our Savior who is the epitome of humility is viewed in a negative light in some ways. It begs the question, is humility that important? Is it just one of those old fashioned ideas or mannerisms that do not apply to modern Christians? What is the benefit of it anyway?
Philippians 2:5-8 NASB
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Christ was the embodiment of humility, yet of anyone in the history of the world, He had the most right to be proud, to demand to be served. And yet He willingly chose to humble Himself for our sakes. Are we greater than He that we should demand what He willingly gave up?
Luke 14:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Jesus said this in response to those around Him who were fighting over who should have the seat of greater honor at the table. This clearly shows that our efforts to promote ourselves are not only fruitless in the end, but detrimental to our goal; for we will be humbled, whether by choice or force.
Let me clarify here the definition of humility. Many think that it means to make yourself less, but in reality, to be humble is to not think of yourself at all.
Philippians 2:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
It does not mean viewing yourself as worthless because that is as contrary to God’s word as viewing yourself as better than another. It is simply to serve and love others with no thought to yourself. Thus, we are neither to consider ourselves above or beneath any other person.
1 Peter 5:5b New American Standard Bible (NASB)
and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
The reason that God is opposed to the proud is because He has made us all equal, the only reason any one of us could be perceived as better than any other is because of how He made us. We are nothing in and of ourselves without God. Therefore, to put ourselves above any other person for any reason is to say that we are better than God made us to be, in a sense better than God. That is why He hates pride. It is straight rebellion. And that is why this principle transcends cultures and centuries. It is timeless and eternally applicable.
So why should we be humble?
Colossians 3:12-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
It is because God is humble, and as Christians bearing His name we need to resemble Him or risk being frauds. Also, He has forgiven us a greater debt than we could ever pay. We really are no better than anyone else. Any sense of pride is a lie from the enemy; it is flattery used to bend us to his evil will.
So what does humility benefit us?
Proverbs 22:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.
Pride leads us down a selfish, crooked spiral that ends in destruction, as it is with all sin. Pride is directly opposed to God and will not prosper. You may gain money and fame, but you will lose everything good here eventually, and lose life for eternity.
Matthew 6:1-2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
If we seek to honor ourselves, we will have our honor here, but it will not last. If we are humble, and do not look for praise, then we will be honored by God in heaven.
How does this affect our lives then if we are to forsake the pursuit of honor and pride? The riches that we receive are not in wealth, but in life itself. If we are humble towards others, we will have richness in our relationships that cannot be attained by any who view themselves as superior in any way. Humility in the workplace heightens our work ethic and increases our respect of our employers and coworkers. This naturally gives us a better standing with all around us, and other benefits will flow in from that. If we show humility to those around us where ever we go we will be a blessing to those we meet and improve those relationships no matter how brief.
But humility at home is where the full blessing lies. If we are humble toward our spouse we will have a marriage that blossoms and a love that none could rival. Even if our spouse is not humble or gracious, our actions and demeanor will not go unnoticed. It will have a far greater (positive) influence on them than we could ever have by nagging, preaching or coercing. Love is humble and genuine, and people naturally respond to that because God is revealed in it.
We are commanded to be humble toward others, regardless of who they are or how they treat us. Even if they are “beneath” us in rank, our humility in respect to them will show our faith and God’s love. It is a hard path to walk, but your reward will be great!