God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and so what are some of the best Bible verses on humility? What verses would you include?
A Definition of Humility
The world defines humility as a lowering of oneself in relation to others, a state or the act of being humble, a freedom of pride and arrogance, and having a modest opinion or estimate of one’s own worth. It is not groveling in front of others, being a doormat, or is a sign of weakness. Moses was said to be the meekest man on earth (Numb 12:3) but meekness is not weakness but it’s actually strength that is under control. The fact is that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The word James uses for “opposes” is the Greek word “antitasso” which means “to range in battle against” so we could put James 4:6 like this; “God is in battle against the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The fact is that until a person humbles themselves they can never receive the grace of God which is a gift that He only gives to those who are of a humble and contrite nature. Isaiah testified of this by writing “this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (66:2) and that “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (57:15). So we see that it is in the person’s best interest to humble themselves, otherwise God is at war with them and He will not “revive” their heart or will not even look upon them. I could put it this way; we are not who we think we are…what we think, we are!
Matthew 18:1-4 “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Children are naturally humble and whoever is humble is teachable and that is why Jesus said that we must be like children. He is not saying that we are to be childish but childlike. That is a huge difference. The greatest are the most humble because they are more likely to learn, to serve, and to not think too highly of themselves. God cannot fill a person who is already full of themselves.
Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
The person that is truly humble is the person who will “count others more significant than” themselves because they will “look not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The application of this would be when others are speaking, don’t interrupt, when others are waiting on something, let them go first, when someone needs something, we supply that need even if we need it ourselves. That is true humility. Thinking more highly of others than self and putting their interests ahead of ours.
First Peter 5:5-6 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
We are to clothe ourselves in “humility toward one another” and this is not just for those “who are younger.” Peter actually quotes James (4:6) and repeats “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” and anytime something is repeated in the Scriptures, God is saying “listen carefully to this…I am going to repeat it.” By Peter quoting James he also authenticates that what James had written was considered Scripture. The Book of James was one of the first books written in the New Testament and both James and Peter saw the importance of humility because they understood that God is at war with the proud of heart.
Matthew 23:10-12 “Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Who will be the greatest among those in the church today? It will be those who are servants or serving others. If a person exalts themselves, they will be humbled but if they humble themselves first then they will be exalted by God because God exalts the humble and humbles the exalted. This is what James wrote in 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” Wouldn’t it be better if we humble ourselves rather than God having to do it for us? Either way we will be humbled and it is better that we do this than God have to do it the hard way.
Ephesians 4:1-3 “ I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
I think this is an important reminder that the manner in which we walk that is worthy of our calling is to walk with “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” and by doing this we can “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” that is necessary in the Body of Christ, the church. A great analogy would be that when a clam gets a grain of sand inside of it, it becomes an irritant and it begins to form a calcium deposit around that tiny grain of sand and in time it becomes a precious pearl. Likewise in the church, we can irritate one another so easily but in time, these tiny irritations can form us into a precious stone (a pearl) to God and a little irritation over time creates something beautiful that can only be formed by walking in humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance.
Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Has God really told us what is good? Yes, God tells us throughout the Scriptures that we are to love justice by living justly; we are to love kindness by being loving; and to walk humbly with others and with God. God tells us what we are to do. God doesn’t require sacrifices as much as obedience, he doesn’t require “church-speak” but love in action, and he doesn’t require us to just walk with Him but “to walk humbly with” Him.
Second Chronicles 34:27 “because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”
Because King Josiah’s heart was willing to obey God, the Lord told him that since he had a tender heart, and he humbled himself before God, the Lord heard him. The king torn his clothes (a sign of humility) and wept before him (a sign of repentance and submission) and this revealed that the king’s heart was humble and that is why God heard his prayers. A tender, humble heart is one that is receptive to change and one that is open to being in submission to God.
Is it too late for this nation and the people to repent and be saved? No, for God has spoken this: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14). Even though this was written to Israel we know that God is no respecter or persons or nations so we can apply it to any people at any time because the principle is timeless. Step one of repentance is to humble ourselves. Next is to pray to God and seek His face. Then we must turn (the word turn literally means to repent, or turn around and go the other way). If, as a nation, we would humble ourselves, pray to God, seek His face, and the repent, God will “forgive [our] sins and heal our land.” Otherwise, judgment is coming to this nation and to every person who refuses to humble themselves, bend the need, repent, and trust in Christ. We ought to do this before He returns or before a person dies, for by then, it will be too late (Rev 20:11-15).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon