When people are completely sure of themselves, they don’t feel any need to be feisty, defensive of their position, argumentative, or making a big show of being right. This is true confidence, whereas boasting reveals insecurity and arrogance.
There is a line of a song that says, “It’s so hard to be humble” or something like that. How true. Pride comes easily and next to the ‘love of money’ pride might be the root of all evil, or at least our biggest problem.
I looked up a few verses about pride. The first one might be known to those who never read the Bible . . . “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) We know this one is true, or at least I do. Every time I get thinking I’m a hot shot, the next thing that happens is a crash. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
The book of Proverbs has lots to say about pride, and almost all of those proverbial sayings pairs pride with humility. For instance, “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23) and “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33)
Humility is encouraged with verses like, “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4) and “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.” (Zephaniah 2:3)
But just telling someone to be humble is almost as useless as telling a depressed person to be cheerful. Humility requires a different mindset, a different way of thinking than our usual stance of “I have my rights” and whatever else pride blurts out. Personally, I am of the firm opinion that true humility comes only to those who have learned to think with the mind of Christ.
Paul backs this up. He wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:3–7)
Part of the difficulty with humility is defining it. Most assume it means having a lowly opinion of yourself, but I don’t think that describes the mind of Christ. It is more like He didn’t think about Himself much at all. He was too wrapped up in the cares and needs of others. To Him, we matter. We matter so much that He died for us. That is humility.
Not only that, He offers Himself to us as our life, and with Him we get His mind. This is why Paul could also write instructions like these . . .
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12–13)
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3)
. . . and why Peter could make a promise like this: “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5)
It takes humility to forgive, to be patient and united with others, to submit, and to know that a contrite heart is blessed, not weak. For all this, I must abandon my pride and think with the mind of Christ.