Humility – The forgotten virtue (part 2)

How to become humble

von Andi
Humble yourself before the LORD, a text from James 4:10. A basic bible verse about humility.

This is a summary of Wayne A. Mack’s book. If you have not read part 1 yet: Here it is: Humility – The Forgotten Virtue (Part 1). It was about the meaningfulness of humility. Now we are dealing with the question: How can we become humble? But first, let’s talk briefly about the opposite:

Chapter 5 – The foolishness of pride

I think we’d better talk about arrogance or haughtiness because “pride” also has positive components. It’s good to be proud of a great exam result. Wayne Mack’s book talks about pride, I’ll leave it at that in the quotes.

Why a whole chapter on pride? Wayne Mack compares this to the millions that states spend to convince people that smoking is harmful. So pride also ruins many people. Perhaps this is the best-kept secret in the world. Our culture wants to convince us that pride is a virtue. Why this discrepancy? “Pride is natural, humility is supernatural.” This is the reason for the different assessment, which is already evident in the search results on Google:

  • Google-search results to the question  “humble is good”: 345.000 Treffer
  • Google-search results to the question: “pride is good”: 1.460.000 Treffer

Why is it stupid to be proud? (Attention: This is not about healthy self-confidence!) Wayne gives the following reasons:

  • Because God hates pride (e.g. you can read this in Proverbs 16:5). Why? Because we are breaking the 1st commandment of God by being proud of ourselves: “You shall have no other gods beside me.”
  • Everything we have is a gift from God: a reason to be thankful, but not a reason for pride.
  • If you consider the fruits of pride, you must conclude that it is not worth being proud. Look at the proud despots of our time.
  • When you see how Jesus Christ humbled Himself, it would be not very intelligent for you to be proud. He wasn’t.

The fruits of pride

Pride has nasty side effects. Read the package insert! Here are 7 of them (pages 93-96 in Wayne Mack’s book):

  • Pride causes us to forget God (an example: Deut. 8:11-14).
  • Pride causes us to make bad decisions (Proverbs 14:16).
  • Pride causes us to lose reverence for God (2 Chronicles 26:15-16).
  • Pride causes ingratitude (2 Chronicles 32:24-25).
  • Pride causes us to sin by our speeches (Psalm 31:19).
  • Pride causes us to shut our ears against the word of God and rely on our own understanding (Jeremiah 13:9-10).
  • Pride prevents good things from happening: praying, reading the Bible, accepting life-giving admonitions, recognizing and repenting of our own sin, listening to others, developing deep and meaningful relationships, and being truly useful to God.

Chapter 6: How does it work to become humble?

It is important to keep in mind the definition of humility:

“Humility does not mean passive servility, but an active, courageous action. The arrogant person thinks more of himself than he really is. Humility does not mean making oneself smaller than one is, but the consistent confession of one’s lowliness, that is, of the position one has before God. Humility is a kind of sincerity, a standing in the truth.”

Lexikon zur Bibel (SCM R. Brockhaus, 2021), own translation

Humility is not what many people understand it to be. Indeed humble people are gold treasures of this world. They do not show themselves through groveling behavior toward other people, but they radiate sovereignty that is not of this world. They kneel before God and stand tall before people. Think of Bonhoeffer, Hans and Sophie Scholl, Mother Theresa, and other heroes of our time. They do not cower before others above them, are not afraid of people, and are satisfied.

But how can I become humble? It is a lifelong process to develop humility. Wayne Mack describes it on pages 104-139, which I reproduce here in my own words:

1. The foundation: God must give you a new heart

The Bible speaks of the “natural man” who knows nothing about God. For this person, pride is normal. We are all like that before God draws us to Himself and we begin to live a life that has been renewed. God has created all the conditions for this: God knows that a Band-Aid is not enough here, we need a new heart! God has created all the conditions for this: Jesus Christ died for our sins on Calvary’s cross. If we acknowledge this and turn to Jesus in faith, we will receive this gift of a new heart (= rebirth). With this, we also receive the power to discard unpleasant characteristics. This does not happen by our own power, but through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us at the rebirth, and through the study of the Bible, which helps us to see spiritual things in a new way.

2. The growth process: God trains us through various means

  • God uses painful experiences (example: Israel in the 40 years in the desert: God humbled the Israelites to free them from their discontent and selfishness, see Deut. 8:2-5).
  • God gives us examples.
  • God allows us to be criticized and misunderstood by others so that we may know ourselves. – God uses our failures to make us more humble.

3. Our own contribution

Here are some suggestions:

  • Think about the greatness and holiness of God, read about it in the Bible and consider His ingenious creation ideas, e.g. here: Creation Indicator Butterfly.
  • Consider how much God loves the humble.
  • Reflect on how Jesus Christ humbled Himself while remaining steadfast, the ultimate example of true humility!
  • Consider the other biblical role models, e.g., Joseph and David.
  • Practice realistic self-assessment, but do not despair: with God, forgiveness and renewal are always possible.
  • We do not deserve anything good from God, everything is grace: “…we were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
  • Everything good that we possess or have achieved comes from the hand of God and is cause for gratitude.
  • Look at others and see what pride can do. Consider how such people affect you. Look at the well-known rulers of dictatorial states. Consider how little you can stand pride in others.
  • Spend time with humble people.

What now?

Humility is a supreme discipline. It is worth working on it. You have now received many tips for it. With that, I’ll end this topic and leave it to you and me to apply the suggestions to our lives.

I welcome comments, additions, and questions.

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