D.L. Moody once said, “Be humble or you’ll stumble.” What a paraphrase of Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Humility is one quality that is lacking in the life of many people and several Believers today. The Apostle Paul realized arrogance, pride, conceit, egotism, and the such had no place in the life of the Believer but always try to rise up and steal, kill and destroy a Christian’s abundant life in Christ. Paul said things like, “I am the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9), “I am the least of all the saints (Ephesians 3:8), “I am the foremost of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), and “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) when speaking of dying to fleshly desires. He truly understood when he was weak in himself then (and only then could he be strong in the grace of Jesus (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I remember a great test of humility in my life. I had asked our head usher to ask people not to use a particular door in our sanctuary during services to avoid distractions. Having forgotten my instructions while in a rush, I tried to use that door. A newer usher in our church said to me, “Excuse me sir, Bro. Stephen has asked us not to use this door.” My first thought was to say, “I AM Bro. Stephen” but instead is replied, “I am so sorry, thank you.” It was a good laugh for me but also a reminder for me to not only follow my own guidelines but keep myself humble.
Humility is a great indicator of one’s spiritual growth and a true mark of the presence of God’s grace. Jesus was our greatest example of humility. He said He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life away as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Servanthood leadership is the highest form of leadership. Worldly leadership can be pushy, arrogant, demanding, and rude. But Christ-like servanthood is humble, giving, considerate, and compassionate. Humility takes on the nature of John the Baptist, the last great prophet, who said, “I must decrease so He can increase” (John 3:30). John knew his place and reason for ministry. While he baptized many and had a great following, his purpose and intentions was to point them all to Christ as he was the forerunner and proclaimer of Jesus. He didn’t have a low view of himself but knew his whole reason for ministry was to lead people to and prepare the way for Jesus. That’s true humility. It wasn’t about John the Baptist but about Jesus.
James, the brother of Jesus, tells us in James 4:6, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humility is the gateway to grace. After all, those who aren’t humble are full of pride and don’t see a need for God’s grace because they find all they need in self. Jesus was the true humble king. For our sakes, though rich, he became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He said he was gentle and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29). He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:3-7). Ultimately, He humbled himself (Philippians 2:5-11) by making Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man. He humbled himself and died on the cross in our place. God exalted Jesus in His humility and made His name great.
What a principle for humble living! When we are humble, God exalts us. Instead of exalting and promoting ourselves, why not let God lift us up? 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” Pride will destroy us. Remember, it was pride that changed angels into devils (Isaiah 14:12-18; Ezekiel 28; Luke 10:18) and the humility of Christ that brought us eternal life (Philippians 2:5-11).