Humility is a state of being in which an individual recognizes and acknowledges their own lack of importance and status compared to others, and behaves accordingly, often characterized by modesty, humbleness, and a lack of arrogance or self-assertiveness. The Bible has much to say about humility, both in terms of its importance and how to practice it.
One of the key passages on humility in the Bible is Philippians 2:3, which states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” This passage highlights the importance of putting others’ needs and wants before our own, and not acting out of a desire for personal gain or glory. Jesus himself lived a life of humility, as seen in the fact that he was willing to humble himself and become human, ultimately dying on a cross for the sake of others (Phil. 2:5-11).
Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” This verse teaches that humility is a virtue that leads to wisdom and is necessary for gaining knowledge and understanding. It also implies that humility is a positive trait, while pride is negative.
The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, found in Luke 18:9-14, teaches that humility is essential for salvation. In the parable, a Pharisee and a tax collector go to the temple to pray. The Pharisee, who is a religious leader, prays in a self-righteous manner, boasting about his own righteousness and criticizing the tax collector. The tax collector, on the other hand, humbly admits his sins and asks for forgiveness. Jesus teaches that it is the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who goes home justified before God because he was humble, while the Pharisee was not. The parable teaches that humility and a recognition of one’s own sinfulness are necessary for salvation, while self-righteousness and pride will lead to condemnation
Other passages that speak to the importance of humility include James 4:6, which states, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble,” and 1 Peter 5:5, which says, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” These verses make it clear that humility is something that is highly valued by God and is necessary for a right relationship with Him.
The Bible also provides examples of individuals who exemplified humility. Moses is one such example, who is described as “the most humble man on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Another example is David, who, despite being a great king and military leader, always acknowledged God as the source of his strength and success (2 Sam. 7:18).
There are also instructions on how to practice humility. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” This passage encourages Christians to put on humility as if it were a piece of clothing, making it a habit and way of life.
In conclusion, the Bible teaches that humility is a vital character trait and a necessary part of a relationship with God. It is not just about thinking lowly of oneself but about putting the needs of others before our own and recognizing that true strength and success come from God. The Bible provides examples of individuals who embody humility and also instructs on how to practice humility in our own lives.