The Preacher Says....  
  Deuteronomy 8

To get a full grasp of the meaning of the word humility, we’ll contrast it with its counterpart, pride. One of the many evils named by Christ emanating from and defiling the heart of man is pride. (Mark 7. 20 – 23) A couple of aspects immediately come to mind.

Arrogance for one-- a certain willful disobedience, guaranteed to prevent the love of God and the love of man. A perfect example of pride towards God is seen in the behavior of the children of Israel depicted in Deuteronomy 8. In the face of their total dependence on God, who brought them out of Egypt by His mighty power and stretched out arm, they chose to believe themselves independent.

Desire for self esteem: ‘thank God I’m not like other men’ was the prayer of the Pharisee. Even the disciples were not exempt. At the last supper it’s recorded that they asked Jesus, ‘Who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God?’ Then there are more subtle forms—forms we may not even recognize, such as self pity: (not getting what you deserve—like Job. To paraphrase , ‘ Lord, I’m upright and good—why are all these bad things happening to me?’) There seems to be some assumption that we’re entitled to have more than others. Pride is common in the so –called sensitive person whose feelings are easily hurt. This desire for esteem—self-esteem—can’t brook criticism and is often cloaked under a so-called inferiority complex. He hates to be thought a fool, and this can often lead to bitterness.

Pride is insidious. It can deceive you. You can be proud and not even know it. But when it bears fruit—disaster. Pride Goes Before A Fall. Haven’t we all had experience with that one? There can be no doubt about the danger of prideful behavior. Emanating from the heart of man, pride takes its place right up there with adultery and murder, and all the other evils that Christ railed against.

So what is humility? Just a lack of pride? Humility embodies so much more than that-- there is something positive about it as we shall see. Peter preached and defined humility for us:

All of you be subject to one another, clothed with humility; For God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, That He may exalt you in due time. ( 1Pet 5. 5, 6). And as stated by Paul, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, But in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other Better than themselves. (Philippians 2. 3)

Perhaps it would be instructive to explore what humility is not. There’s such a thing as false humility, what we might call ‘faking it’.

Do not let anyone who delights In false humility & the worship of angels Disqualify you from the prize—his unspiritual mind props him up with idle notions. (Col 2. 18 NIV)

In olden times false humility was expressed in acts of fasting, sackcloth and ashes, even disfigurement. Today we see it in the flatterer—poor little old me—tearfully sentimental—exaggerated meekness of tone. Neither pride nor humility is cultivated by developing physical manifestations, only behavior. Both are products of our attitudes, our state of mind.

How does the humble person think? He tries to esteem others better than himself. He recognizes he needs to overcome the tendency to think his opinions to be superior. Isn’t it silly to see how much credence we give to our own opinions when we all know there’s very little difference between us? To be humble is to recognize the thing that unites mankind. That thing is our weakness and our need of grace. Above all, humility is a manifestation of our love for God and man that comes to light when we deny self. Does it strike you that love and humility are one and the same? And who was it who said ‘Love is the greatest thing in the world’? Without it I’m like sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. (1Cor 13. 1)

Pride is our greatest enemy, because there is no light in it. Christ calls for denial of self; pride the exact opposite: love of self. This is a grievous thing:

For the day of the Lord of hosts Shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty, And upon everyone that is lifted up, And he shall be brought low. (Is 2. 12).

At the Last Supper, before his betrayal, Christ gave a final message to his disciples. When he washed the feet of his disciples he gave us a perfect illustration of the ideal he set forth for man. By this act he defined the very essence of the word ‘humility’, a word which holds great promise.

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.