What is Humility?

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I’m writing this post in the middle of a bustling coffee shop. There’s a group of people to my right who are discussing how humility is a rare commodity today. They are amazed that people just can’t talk with each other anymore because we’re so focused on talking that we are no longer very good at listening. Our preconceived notions and our partisan politics have reduced our communication from thoughtful conversations to shouting matches. But while listening to them I realized that they are priding themselves on their humility.

How often do we do that? We think that we’re so humble that we just have to say something about the pride of another. Or, maybe the more likely scenario, we see someone who is full of bravado and pride, and think to ourselves “at least I’m not like them”.

Humility is the antithesis of pride, yes, but I think that we have some pretty large misconceptions about what true humility is.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)

The more I dig into this verse, the more I realize the order of these elements is so important. I believe that as we act justly and pursue relationships over punishment, we will draw closer to God. As we understand how much God has done for us, we love mercy even more and run to him any time we can. Both acting justly and loving mercy requires humility—I don’t think we can be just or merciful if we are full of pride.

More than that, I don’t believe we can be humble without walking with God, because humility is grounded in the fact that everything we have comes from him and not from ourselves. If we try to be humble without that deep intimacy that comes from a relationship with the Lord, it can come out as shyness or niceness, insecurity or self-deprecation. But true humility doesn’t look like any of those things.

We can easily look like we’re humble, without actually humbly walking with God.

For many years of my Christian life, I tried to appear humble without actually wanting to be humble. And there’s a big difference between the two. My feigned attempt at humility was so focused on what others thought about me and how I would be perceived, it wasn’t about humility at all.

And, honestly, I still suck at humility and will often fall back to my acting humble instead of being humble. But the thing that I have learned is that when I am focused on the goodness of God and all he has done for me, the natural outpouring from my life is humility. I can’t possibly continue to be prideful when I understand what he’s done for me. I can’t stay in my insecurity when I realize that he has called me worthy. And I can’t wallow in self-deprecation when I know that God views me as his beloved child in whom he’s well pleased.

Humility is occupying our God-given space in the world. Not taking up more space like pride wants or shrinking back like insecurity tells us to, but standing firm in who he says we are. Humility is trusting what he says over what we say and living from that place of trust and faith. Thankfully, we don’t have to muster up humility on our own, but we grow in humility as we trust him even more.

How do you view humility?

Have you ever found yourself acting humble instead of truly being humble?

To go Deeper: Read The Correlation Between Humility and Wisdom, Pride & Insecurity
Check out Free of Me, Nice
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6 comments

      1. I was actually referring more to involuntarily being humiliated. That is what brings humility. I also used to think I knew what humility was, but was so far off. Yes we have to choose it. But often the path that brings us to that choice is involuntary, because God knows in our human pride we actually would never choose humility until our eyes our opened to how ugly and harmful our pride really is.

        I really liked this post! I particularly loved the verse you used from Micah, it is often on my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

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