Humility is a virtue that has been practiced since the beginning of time. It is also one of the hardest virtues to master.
Humility is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: “lack of pride or vanity; meekness.” Humility can be divided into two categories: acquired and innate. Acquired humility is something that is learned over time, while innate humility comes from within us. In this treatise, you’ll see characteristics of humility in the bible.
The word humility comes from the Latin word humilitas which means “lowliness of spirit.” The Bible says that God has chosen the lowly things of this world (1 Cor 1:28). In Psalm 138:6 it says “Though the Lord is high exalted, yet He looks upon the lowly.” If we are humble before God, He will lift us up and make us great (Lk 18:14).
Humility is defined in the Bible as “a low self-esteem.” This means that you should have a low opinion of yourself and your abilities. In fact, humility can be defined as “the ability to see oneself as less than others,” or “the ability to see oneself as below others.”
Humility is a virtue that all Christians should strive for because it will bring them closer to God and make them more like Him. The benefits of humility in the bible is also discussed in this piece.
Definition Of Humble In The Bible
The Bible defines humility as “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 22:4). Its etymological root is in the Latin word “humus” meaning “of the earth.” To be humble is to be face down in the dirt, submitting to the authority of another, without personal pride. This is the Christian’s proper position before the Lord.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)
We stumble into the word humility a lot in the Bible. But how do we define humble? What exactly is humility? And why is it important?
What Is Humility?
Humility is often characterized as genuine gratitude and a lack of arrogance, a modest view of one’s self. However, the biblical definition of humility goes beyond this. Humility is a critical and continuous emphasis of godliness in the Bible. We are called upon to be humble followers of Christ and trust in the wisdom and salvation of God. True humility is to see ourselves as we actually are, fallen in sin and helpless without God.
“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” Psalm 25:9
Biblical humility is grounded in the nature of God. The Father descends to help the poor and afflicted; the incarnate Son embodied humility from His birth to the Crucifixion, even in His Resurrection. The coupled usage of “meek” and “humble in heart” in Matthew 11:29 emphasizes Christ’s humility before humankind, whom he came to serve, and His submission before God. Humility and meekness are often interrelated as both are righteous traits for serving the will of God.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5
The profound Bible verse of Proverbs 3:5 is an excellent summation of the biblical meaning of humility. To be humble, we must have faith that God will lead us in the best way to live and how to avoid temptation. We are to put complete trust in the Lord and not deceive ourselves with vanity or lust. We should lean on the understanding, wisdom, and divinity of God to show us the righteous path through prayer, meditation, fasting, and other faithful practices. In order to do this, we must have the initial requirement of humility to open our hearts and withdraw from the arrogance of our ego.
“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4
Proverbs gives us a deeper look into the biblical meaning of humility as we are given a direct explanation. “Humility is the fear of the Lord,” provides a very precise definition. Not only does being humble consist of trusting God and following his will, but furthermore fearing the consequences of neglecting His commands for truth, love, work ethic, mercy, and beyond. Humility is recognizing the magnificent power of God and the potential retribution He will condemn upon us if we do not aim our purpose towards righteousness.
Merriam-Webster simply defines humility as “freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble.” For further depth into this definition, let’s look at the three senses in which humble is defined:
1: not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive
2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission; a humble apology
3: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale; not costly or luxurious
Importance of Humility
The importance of humility is directly related to the deadly consequences of pride. Pride separates us from God as we do not acknowledge and appreciate the eternal sovereignty of our Lord. Therefore, the importance of humility is seen in the deep gratitude we hold in proper recognition of God’s divinity and love for us. Humility’s importance is also found in recognizing our flawed nature as humans on earth and our susceptibility to sin if not vigilant against temptation. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” ~ 1 Peter 5:8
Humility is frequently mentioned in scripture as it relates to our salvation in Jesus Christ. Christi Given gives a great summary of the significance of being humble in our relationship with God:
To enter God’s presence we must come humbly to the throne: 1 Peter 5:6.
God says the meek shall inherit the earth: Matthew 5:5.
The proud are cast down and will be humbled: James 4:10.
When we are humbled or even when we suffer, we need to remember we will ultimately reign with Christ: 2 Timothy 2:12.
Jesus even humbled Himself, therefore we should also have the mind of humility: Philippians 2:5-11.
Humility in the Bible
- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:3-11
- But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6
- For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11
- Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6
- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
- When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
- Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12
Characteristics Of Humility In The Bible
Faithful reliance on God
- Persecuted, but blessed by God
Not everyone can or should take up arms, but those who are being mistreated by others always have God on their side. The Lord will defend you as long as you remain humble and kind to others. He will get even with those who make fun of or insult you. He will also bestow His favor upon you in their presence.
He makes fun of haughty haughties but has mercy on the lowly and the oppressed. Proverbs 3:34
(2) Have a healthy respect for God and His majesty
A wise person recognizes God as the ultimate authority. That’s why they work so hard to conceal their true greatness. They recognize that before God, they have no grounds for boasting.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and lowliness precedes majesty. (Prov. 15:33)
Trusts in God’s Mercy
People who are truly humble are aware of their own shortcomings but place their faith in God’s grace anyway. They take comfort in prayer and the promises of God.
However, the Lord reassured me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. So that Christ’s power may dwell in me, I will boast all the more joyfully about my weaknesses. For Christ’s sake, I consider it pure joy to suffer weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, and difficulty. The truth is that my greatest strength comes from my greatest weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9–10)
- Puts His Faith in God to Guide His Future
The Bible teaches that one of the marks of humility is an anxiety-free existence. Nothing can be guaranteed in this life, but the humble person knows that God is in charge. This is why they will give themselves up to Him tomorrow.
To put it bluntly, tomorrow is a completely unknown variable. Where have you been, and what have you been doing with your life? You are like a vapor that appears for a short time and then dissipates. You need to replace such phrases with “If the Lord wills it,” implying that your plans depend on His will. As it stands, you brag about your haughty plans. Such arrogance is always harmful. (James 4:14-16)
God-reliant individuals 5
While it’s admirable to set lofty goals and work hard to achieve them, pride emerges when those goals become predicated on material possessions and social status. Trying to outdo other people will only leave you feeling inadequate about yourself. Humble people, on the other hand, don’t feel the need to compare themselves to others. They prefer to wait for God’s grace and the right moment to succeed.
“Have a low opinion of yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)
- Places more emphasis on the needs of those around them
Someone low in pride is more concerned with the needs and happiness of those around them. They aren’t driven by their own ambitions. Instead, they consider the larger good for the group as a whole. In a nutshell, they prioritize the needs of others above their own.
Don’t act on your own ego or for the sake of your own glory. Instead, put others’ needs before your own and act humbly, prioritizing the group over individual gain. As Paul writes in Philippians 2:3–4,
Seven, Having Friends in Lower-Class Groups
Humble individuals lack arrogance and are capable of getting along with people of all backgrounds. And they’re not above mixing it up with the helpless and destitute. The people involved do not view them as second-rate.
Maintain peaceful relationships with one another. Don’t be haughty, but be open to friendship with those below you. Avoid arrogance at all costs. According to the Scriptures (Romans 12:16)
To put it another way, this person (8) does not boast about themselves.
Avoiding self-congratulatory thoughts is a good place to start if you’re working on being more humble. Wait for others to praise your efforts before you take credit for them yourself.
If you want to be praised, don’t take the credit yourself; have an outsider do it. Scripture advises us to do so in (Proverbs 27:2)
Doesn’t Carry Its Head Too High
In light of rule no. 8, biblical humility counsels against putting oneself on a pedestal. You need not put on an air of superiority to gain respect from those around you. You wait for the Lord to raise you up instead.
Those who think highly of themselves will find themselves degraded, while those who think highly of others will find themselves elevated. (Luke 14:11)
Awards for Long Service
Those who are truly humble know how to defer to those who are more senior to them in age or in rank. They recognize their worth and defer to their authority.
“Likewise, you younger people, respect your elders. Humble yourselves before one another; “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
11 Shows Patience and Kindness to One Another.
Furthermore, the Bible lists mildness and patience as traits of the humble. Christians should practice tolerance and patience with one another.
To put it another way: “Humble yourselves before one another; be kind to one another, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you.” For the sake of the gospel (Ephesians 4:2)
12-Has a Heart for Service
Jesus’ heart is one of service, as evidenced by his washing the disciples’ feet. Equally, He modeled service for His followers and commanded them to do the same. Those in positions of authority must be willing to stoop and serve those they represent.
“He who is greatest among you will be your servant. Because “humble people will be exalted and haughty people will be humbled.” Referenced from Matthew 23:11–12
seeks, by God’s grace, to do what is right
Is Converted from Sinful Ways, Number Thirteen
A humble person admits their faults and makes sincere amends. The first step toward God’s grace has been taken.
I will forgive their sin and heal their land if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways. Scripture Reference: 2 Chron. 7:14
Shows both justice and mercy in deeds
Being just and merciful are additional biblical hallmarks of humility. They have received God’s grace despite their unworthiness, so they show mercy to others. They are also fair and treat everyone equally.
“O mortal, he has taught you what is right. What then does the LORD demand of you? To do what is right, to show compassion, and to seek God in all you do. (Micah 6:8)
- Recognizes They Cannot Be Righteous by Their Own Light A humble person recognizes that they are not righteous by their own light. They are self-aware enough to realize their need for a savior. Because of this, they are unable to outperform their peers.
“There is not one righteous person in all the world;” “It is written that there is not one righteous person in all the world;” (Romans 3:1-10)
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16 Realizes That They Can Only Be Saved By God’s Grace
And they are confident that they, too, can be saved by God’s grace through Christ Jesus. Only through complete trust and submission will they be able to gain entry. God saves people, and it has nothing to do with what people do to earn salvation.
Benefits Of Humility In The Bible
At least three compelling reasons to be modest are presented in the Bible. List them here in order of appearance:
Those who are modest find favor in his eyes. Wisdom Chapter 3 Verses 34
Wealth, honor, and longevity are God’s promised returns for those who fear Him with awe and reverence. Psalm 22:4
Pride leads to shame, but humility brings insight. The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter Eleven, Verse 2
Let God give us the fortitude to put our pride in the lowest place. It’s possible to speculate on how his life might have been different if he lacked this divine attribute. Changes in marriage, career, education, close relationships, and other aspects of life are just the beginning. To what do people’s prideful hearts aspire? What is it that prevents them from enjoying God’s unfathomable favor, honor, blessings, life, and wisdom in abundance?
Some people may simply not believe in God. This results when we stop looking at who God is and what He can do and start focusing on what we can see. As a form of self-preservation, some people refuse to ask God for help because they believe the problem is “too big for God.” When we pray, we worry that He won’t hear us and we’ll be left feeling discouraged. Therefore, we conclude that it is best to avoid God altogether during this time of crisis.
The truth is that we measure God’s strength against our own inadequacy and difficulties. Our inward focus on our own flaws is excessive. As a result of our inward focus, we fail to acknowledge His supremacy. At the conclusion of it all, we feel a sense of accomplishment. Humility leads to the One who triumphs over destruction and the one who brings it (Proverbs 16:18). (John 1:5). One of the opposites of pride is humility.
Pride is the result of neglecting to pray. Yet, it is through lowliness of heart and longsuffering that our prayers are heard and granted. Pride can’t hold its breath for God to respond. Pride is impatient, so it rushes things along. The worry that His reply might hurt or embarrass you also contributes to this feeling.
Humble people trust that God will lead them and that His Word will guide them to success. When one is patient and modest, God comes through for them. The presence of Christ crucified cultivates a spirit of modesty. Love for Jesus and love for Him produce humility.