Humility - Quenching the Fires of Pride and Self

Phil:2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves”.

In humility we are to consider others better than ourselves – not equal, but better -- in humility.

We all want to be patted on the back and told we’re doing or have done a great job but we must never let that praise and adulation from other humans go to our heads. Rather we should seek the praise of God at judgment and His approval of our words, deeds, and thoughts. He tells us in His word how He wants us to live.

Webster’s dictionary defines humility as: the quality or state of being humble. Don’t you just love dictionaries that use the word or a derivative of the word as part of the definition? Okay, so now we need to find the definition of humble. Humble – not proud nor haughty; not arrogant nor assertive; reflecting, expressing or offered in a spirit of deference or submission; meek, modest, lowly, insignificant, unpretentious. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Strong’s Concordance defines humility as #5012, further expanded in Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon as “a deep sense of one’s littleness” and “lowliness of mind”.

Somehow those definitions are in absolute contradiction to what the world teaches and to our own human nature. Society preaches a gospel of self – self-esteem, self- promotion, self-exaltation, self-reliance, self, self, self. God, however, in His Word teaches us otherwise.

Sometimes the best example is not just words but something tangible. In this instance God humbled Himself and became one of us.

Phil 2:5-9 5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

Jesus humbled Himself so much that He chose to be born in a stable full of animals to an unmarried, but betrothed young girl, a virgin – not in a palace to the king and his wife.

Isaiah 7:14 & Matt 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Matt 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

He chose to be brought up by his mother and stepfather in a working-class family, complete with half-brothers and half- sisters – not to the richest family as an only-child.

Mark 6:3 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

He chose ordinary, un-educated, rough, working-class fishermen and a hated and despised tax collector as His disciples. – not the priests, Levites, Sadducees and Pharisees. He chose to associate with prostitutes, thieves and others that we ourselves would probably not care to associate with – not with the cream of society.

Matt 9:9-11 9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

He chose to die in a horrible manner in the worst of ways to die – crucified on a cross. Jesus was humility personified.

Here He is, God in the flesh, but you would never know it just by looking at Him or by His friends or the company He kept. Jesus’ outward appearance did not proclaim His Godhood, only His humble humanity. But this humble man, God in the flesh, chose to be just like you and me, suffer like you and me, and die – unlike you and me who will most likely die of old age or disease – not crucified on a cross. He valued us. We are to do likewise with each other.

The world tells us to lord it over each other. Jesus tells us to consider others better than ourselves. All others. That includes people who do not measure up to our standards of conduct, words, actions, dress, politics, world-view, viewpoints, religion, worship etc.

True humility demands that in considering others better than ourselves that we treat others better than ourselves. We are not to use our criteria or standards in considering whom we should consider better than ourselves. We can’t pick and choose whom to be gracious to. The homeless person is to be considered better than ourselves – the homosexual, the unbeliever, the heretic, murderers and thieves, adulterers, etc. All others are to be considered better than ourselves – truly a thought-provoking idea.

Consideration for and treating others better than ourselves is not giving approval to their sins or lifestyle – it is treating them with the same kind of respect that Jesus treated those He associated with while He was here on the earth and those with whom His disciples associated after Pentecost.

Jesus did not look down on those that society considered inferior or outcasts – the poor, sinners, the afflicted -- or less than human – Gentiles, Samaritans, lepers.

The harshest criticisms Jesus had were toward those religious leaders with holier-than-thou attitudes and practices – those pointing fingers and looking down on others who didn’t match up to their idea of holiness or respect for God and the things of God -- those who look at outward appearances rather than the heart – those filled with self- righteous pride – the opposite of humility. (Matt 1:1-36) (Luke 11:37-53)

Luke 11:37-39 37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

Jesus was telling them that beautiful, outward appearances can hide ugly things inside – that they should consider more than how beautiful something looks. We can expand that to how we react to how someone dresses or what color their hair is, or if they have tattoos all over their body. A person is more than those things. We are to find the gold within no matter what the outside looks like. We can’t do that if pride infects our life.

Lucifer was cast out of heaven because of pride. Isaiah 14:12-14 12 “ How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘ I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” Lucifer thought He could be God – that he was above all the other angels.

Cain slew Abel because of pride. The world perished in the flood, all except one family, because of pride. David sinned with Bathsheba and because of pride he caused the death of her husband Uriah. Israel backslid time and time again into idolatry and sin because of pride. The list goes on and on in the Old Testament of the Israelites falling back into sin and taken into captivity because of pride and a lack of humility. These were given to us as examples of how NOT to live.

Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden of Eden because of pride. Gen. 3:22-24 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” — 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. In pride, Eve listened to the serpent wanting to be like God. Adam followed her knowing he was sinning. I Cor. 10:1-11 1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters, as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Jesus came and lived the example of how He wants us to live – how He wants us to be humble – how He wants us to treat others.

He washed His disciples feet. John 13:12-17 “12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

We are to remove the plank from our own eyes before removing the speck from someone else’s eye. Matt 7:3-5 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

We are to live as Jesus has set the pattern for us in His Word by the example of His life – for ourselves, individually, and let God worry about whether or not others are living that pattern He set. In humility we are to consider others better than ourselves. We can only change ourselves. We can’t make others change. If we try to do so, we set up ourselves over them, in pride, deciding whether or not they are living up to our standards. That is God’s job, not ours. We can only see what is on the outside – God sees the heart. Jeremiah 17:9-10 9 “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart, test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Consider others better than yourself. Take note of what is wrong in your life and asking God’s help, change those things in your own life to conform with His image. You are responsible only for how you live your life. You are not responsible for how others choose to live theirs. We are free to choose rightly or wrongly and to change. We are to allow others that same freedom.

If all Christians everywhere in this country and elsewhere in the world would start treating others with humility, love and respect, whether they agree with them or not, and clean up the wrong things in their own lives, rather than pointing fingers, condemning, and treating others with disrespect, it would transform this land and this world like nothing else.

Matt 5:43-45 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Romans 12:1-3 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Romans 12:9-21 9” Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. 20 Therefore “ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It begins with you, with us, those called by His name to live humbly and peaceably with others, minding our own business, treating others with love and respect – even our enemies -- changing our own lives to conform with the pattern He set.

Consider others better than yourself just as Jesus considered us better than Himself.

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