Skip to content

The Humble Life

In our culture and perhaps every culture since The Fall, we are inundated with the desperate need to find significance through the approval and esteem of others. True humility can seem like an impossibility this side of eternity. 

Is humility merely an action? Is it something we strive for? Is it something we practice and eventually, through practice, become truly humble? What about the acts we do in service to others, but deep inside we know they are done to elevate our status in another’s mind? What about those things we do for others in a desperate attempt to find significance for us? Humble acts done in an attempt to earn something either from God or man cease to be humble

On the other side, a low view of oneself can be passed off as humility, when in reality it is just a low view of oneself. Self-abasement stands in direct contradiction to the story of mankind's relationship to God. As imagers of God, we are fearfully and wonderfully made and our low view of ourselves stands in direct opposition to what God says about each and every one of us. Self-abasement is not humility, but actually stands directly in the way of the path to true humility. 

                                                 Canva Design DAF0XuYhiCc

What is the very root of humility; the root that will cause true humility to flourish in our lives? Humility is not something we can create in our own hearts but is the result of something God does in us, however we can partner with Him. What is it and how do we open ourselves up to Him? How was Jesus, the Son of God, humble enough to be the confident servant of all even while walking the earth as fully human and fully divine? Was it the divinity that made it possible for Him and impossible for us? What if the answer is ‘no?’ Jesus came both as the Answer to this impossibility and an example to show us how to live our current lives on this earth with God the Father. Studying His life gives us the answer we need!

In Matthew 18:1, the disciples were walking along with Jesus and asked “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” We may laugh at the forthrightness of their question, but I suspect this is a question many of us have. “How will my life count? I don’t want to just be a regular person. I want to be special." A significant life is a need and desire we all have, but so often we try to answer that desire the wrong way and instead of humility, pride takes root. 

The disciples were essentially asking, “How can I be the greatest?” Jesus’ answer in Matthew 18:3-5  was not one encouraging them in their pursuit of a good life, a life that counts the most, or to do more things but entreating them to become like little children. What are children like? Children who have not lost their childlike innocence are free to be themselves. They do not try to one-up each other, prove themselves or use others for their needs. They simply are. A well-loved child is free from the need to find their worth from others, trusts easily and gives easily. They need people but they do not use them. They fully trust the ones who care for them. 

                                                   Canva Design DAF0XlvkL14

Pride is doing life in a way that uses others for our own benefit and a refusal to rely on God for our needs. It’s a measuring of ourselves against others, looking for lack in others, elevating ourselves at the expense of others and a desperate attempt to hide the nakedness of soul we often feel instead of allowing the Cross through repentance to do its work in us. We may even do this through ‘good works.’ It's an attempt to do life on our own and on our own terms. How do we become childlike again when so many of us have lost our childlikeness through the course of life?

In John 13:3-4 we find the root of Jesus humility hidden in the little word ‘so.’ “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; SO he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”

The word ‘so’ shows us what enabled Jesus to walk in true humility throughout His life and allowed Him, as God’s Son, to wash the feet of mere humans. He understood His belovedness. Jesus understood who He was because He spent much time with the Father in prayer and solitude. He came from God and was returning to God. He knew reality was that God had put all things under Him and He didn’t need to prove what He already knew to be true. He fully entrusted Himself to the Father. Because He knew His belovedness to the Father, He didn’t need to use others to prove His own worth or status. He was free to love no matter what others thought of Him, believed about Him or how they treated Him. Humility is the absence of the need to prove oneself or ‘exalt oneself.’ It is entrusting oneself to God the Father.

What about us? Pride shows us all of the places we are not rooted in Him and His deep love for us. When we need to be seen for our good behavior, approved of, receive credit, be admired, cannot be authentic, are ‘overly’ authentic to prove we are authentic, cannot be confronted, do ‘good’ hoping to be seen, love others with a top-down approach, try to appear spiritual, won’t offer ourselves to others out of fear of rejection, are rude to those who inconvenience us and hold others in contempt, we can be sure that pride is operating in our lives. The goal is not to then berate ourselves to try and become more humble, but ask Jesus to reveal and heal the deeper need in us we are trying to fill or the places we are trying to protect. 

                                                 Canva Design DAF0XqrR8B8

It is only when we know how deeply loved we are, we begin to feel safe enough to become truly humble. Humility is an act of trust that comes from knowing our belovedness to the Father. As we see His love more, we begin to see a childlikeness and freedom growing in us. As our trust in God deepens, we lose the need to compare, can admit wrong, become more free to be who God created us to be, no longer grasp at others to secure our identity, and give of ourselves more freely. We become people who can simply and safely be. 

This happens in phases and pieces throughout our lives. God has a way of gradually setting our foundations in a more sure place if we allow Him to. When we let our humble God see and wash our feet, dirty with the wear and tear of this life, He slowly but surely heals us. Humility is cultivated as we entrust ourselves more and more to the God who deeply and unconditionally loves us. Only then will be safe enough to become humble and childlike. Pride will no longer have to be our defense. The humble life is the beautiful life we are all looking for.

How to open ourselves up to God in the places we see pride operating:

  • Find a quiet spot to sit and be with God
  • Be honest with what you see; Repent (invitation from God to be healed)
  • Ask God what the fear, insecurity, need or shame in you that you are using pride to cover
  • If necessary, ask God where you first began to live from that
  • Ask God to heal that place as only He can and to show you His truth
  • Meditate on your belovedness to Him. Our belief or disbelief doesn’t change a thing, but does affect how we live.
  • Spend time with God in silence and prayer; this is where He shows us who He is and shows us who we are.