22010.277 Humility

“Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else.” —Luke 18:9

Luke is setting the stage at the beginning of this story. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is a lesson in humility.

Our position in prayer before our Holy God should always be one of meekness. We are not to approach God’s throne with any confidence of our own righteousness, but with the knowledge of our own sinfulness. The creatures are to come before the Creator in humility, as the recipients of the grace we all so desperately need.

I am reminded of a verse in the book of James:

“But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, ’God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.’” —James 4:6

This is lesson is echoed in other parts of the Bible:

“With arrogant scoffers he is scornful, yet he shows favor to the humble.” —Proverbs 3:34

“And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” —Matthew 23:12

“In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.” —1 Peter 5:5–7

Clearly, the way up is down. The correct attire for a child of the King is humility. When God opposes the proud, He causes their actions to boomerang on them. Yet He tells us that the humble will receive His amazing grace. It is the Lord who humbles and it is the Lord who exalts.

Hannah’s prayer in the Old Testament tells us:

“No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one other than you! There is no rock like our God! Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly. Proud talk should not come out of your mouth! For the LORD is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do. The LORD impoverishes and makes wealthy; he humbles and he exalts. He lifts the weak from the dust; he raises the poor from the ash heap to seat them with princes–he bestows on them an honored position. The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord–he placed the world on them.” —1 Samuel 2:2–3, 7–8

“The work of a true convert is not done. He (and she) finds a great work to do and great wants to be supplied. He (and she) still sees himself/herself to be a poor, empty, helpless creature who still stands in great and continual need of God’s help. He/she well knows that without God he/she can do nothing. After a true conversion, the soul is increasingly aware of its own impotence and emptiness. It is still aware of its universal dependence on God for everything. A true convert is aware that his grace is very imperfect and that he/she is very far from having all that he/she desires. Through conversion, new desires are produced in him/her that he/she never had before … So he/she still has plenty of business at the throne of grace: in fact, his/her business there increases rather than diminishes.” —Jonathan Edwards

Become More

Romans 12 is a wonderful chapter in the Bible for a “hands-on” tutorial on humility. It contains practical advice on how we can consider the “everybody else’s” mentioned in our verse for today:

“For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.” (verse 3)

“Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.” (verse 10)

“Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.” (verse 13)

“Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.” (verse 16)

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” (verse18)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (verse 21)

Further Reflections

“There is no true holiness without humility.” —Thomas Fuller

“Humility is nothing else but a true knowledge and awareness of oneself as one really is.” —The Cloud of Unknowing

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