We all know someone who seems to be on the arrogant side. And it’s a total turn off, right? Arrogance and pride just seem to repel people, but humility does the opposite; it’s attractive. But humility isn’t just about having the right attitude – it’s about growing in spiritual character. Humility is something that Jesus emulated, so of course, we want humility to grow in our lives as well. So how exactly do we cultivate humility?
Before we get into how to develop humility in our lives, let’s define it.
First, humility isn’t thinking you’re terrible and everyone else is better than you. That’s more like worthlessness, but that’s not what God wants us to feel. We don’t want to have a false sense of humility either in which we portray a humble attitude, but down deep inside, pride is seething.
We really need to strive for balance. Rick Warren puts it like this: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
I like the phrase that Philippians 3:3 uses: putting “no confidence in the flesh.” That’s true humility. Instead of trusting in ourselves, we’re trusting in God. We put our confidence in Him, not what we know, see, or feel. That’s humility.
The Importance of Humility
The Bible clearly teaches that with humility comes blessings, honor, and promotion:
Proverbs 11:2 ~ “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.”
James 4:10 ~ “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Romans 12:16 ~ “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
But nothing good comes from pride: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18).
Focus on the Positive, Not the Negative
I think sometimes we get into a difficult spot because we focus on the negative. We put our attention on not being prideful instead of on how to be humble. But, “to not be prideful” should not be our goal; rather, we should aim “to be humble.”
We want to grow in humility because we desire to live a life worthy of the calling that we have received in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:1), and we want to honor God. So don’t focus on pride; move toward humility.
Humility is an Issue of the Heart
Pride isn’t just an attitude, it’s a heart issue. And sometimes our hearts can lie to us. We believe the legitimacy lie that we can solve our own problems and fix things better than God can. We feel legitimate when we fix things, and we assume that we can rely on ourselves first in order to solve our own problems.
This viewpoint is in direct opposition to humility. It reeks of pride and arrogance. Instead of believing that the Lord’s “got this” and He will direct our path and that HE will tell us what to do or not do, we believe we have the ability to do things ourselves and be wise in our own eyes. We step into the role of “god” and promote our own ways, our own agenda.
God won’t allow this kind of arrogance. There will be consequences if we choose pride over humility.
Character Develops Through Suffering
Humility is just one of the areas of character that we want to grow in, but there’s only one way that we grow in character. Romans 5:3-4 reminds us, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” According to this verse, growing in character isn’t easy – there’s a refining process that takes place. We have to experience some suffering if we want to develop the character of Christ.
So we shouldn’t be surprised when we go through trials and difficulties that will put our level of humility to the test. In order for us to grow in humility (and other godly characteristics), situations will arise in which we must choose between an attitude of pride or humility.
God Works Humility In Us
Now, before we get too concerned about how we’re going to cultivate more humility in our lives, we need to remember that we are God’s workmanship and that HE will work it out in us and through us (Ephesians 2:10). We just need to be open to His instruction and have this attitude: I want to do all I can to move into humility because that’s walking in a manner that’s worthy of Him.
When we choose to trust God and to surrender our will to His will, just like Jesus did, then He grows humility in us. When we choose to surrender our agenda and the way we think things should go – when we let go of our vision, our plan, whatever that looks like – then we grow even more in holiness of character.