Every living thing grows. If you are a born again Christian, God intends for you to “grow in respect to your salvation” and to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” and “to bear much fruit”. This implies spiritual growth, progress, and forward momentum.
One of our great challenges regarding spiritual growth is our carnal mindsets that tend to view godly virtues as something that we can attain through self-improvement for God instead of by partaking of God Himself. Nowhere is this more apparent (or spiritually deadly) than when it comes to the mysterious virtue of humility.
Let me illustrate. If someone were to ask you to teach them about humility, what would you say? What does humility look like, act like, etc.? Think about it. What comes to your mind when you think of humility?
For many, they think of a passive person, who avoids all conflict and becomes a door mat for all to trample. That is NOT genuine humility. Others think of a self-depreciating person. “Oh I’m nothing without God (as if you are ever without God… Hint: you’re not!).”
Before my own mind was renewed, I was trying so hard to be humble, every genuine compliment became an ordeal. “Brother Andy, we really enjoyed your lesson today.” Quickly I’d retort, “Oh, it wasn’t me. It was the Lord. He gets all the glory.” Hint: While it’s good to give God ALL the glory, 1) most people already know that you’re nothing special apart from His grace. They are just wanting to let you know that they saw Jesus working through you, and 2) God is just fine with using you and you enjoying being a blessing to others! That’s not pride. That’s joy! As the apostle John wrote, “we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” God wants us to enjoy being a vessel of His Kingdom!
So what is humility? Why is it important? And how can we grow in humility?
1) Humility is Jesus Christ! It’s Him, His very nature and essence. Yes, the very Jesus who is getting in the face of Pharisees and disciples to take on hell is the essence of humility! Jesus Christ knew who He was, knew His Father, and was ready to do the will of the Father from a heart of love and faith. That’s humility.
2) Humility is important because it is the only way to enter into God’s destiny for your life (which is to become like Jesus Christ.) James says, “Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God, that God may exalt you in due time.” Many people are trying to bypass the cross and to reach their destiny without humbling themselves in God’s presence trusting in God to bring us to His destiny for our lives. Jesus could only enter into glory through the way of the cross. We must follow Him. We must be willing to set our concern for other people’s opinion aside and do the will of God even when it hurts and brings no immediate worldly benefit.
3) The way to grow in humility is to pursue Jesus Christ Himself. When we pursue “humility” as if it is something apart from Jesus Christ, it always results in frustration. It’s like trying to pick up mercury with your fingers. If you try to pick it up directly, it just squirts all over the place. The best way to pick up mercury is to put it inside of something and then pick up the container. Jesus Christ is the container that is filled with humility! Fall so in love with Him that you fall out of love for yourself. Embracing the path of following Him allows you to remain close to Him and to surrender your own personal rights in order to love God and love others in His power. That’s the path forward. The way up is down!
So humility is not some “religious virtue” attained by wearing drab clothing and becoming passive, spiritual marshmallows. It’s dropping our self-centered way of living to make Jesus Christ the center, source, and focus of all that we do. It’s what happens inside of us as we rise up to walk like sons of God in the power and love of Jesus Christ.