Humility seems to be a lost virtue in 2014, at least in Western culture. The Bible speaks a great deal about humility and describes humble persons as godly persons. Humility in church members, clergy and laity alike, might foster revival in America. Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 instruct us to live humble and gentle lives. Romans 12:3 gives a simple yet profound definition of humility, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment.” (NASU) God forbids us to have either too high or too low a view of ourselves. We are to see ourselves as deserving no honor in and of ourselves but rather to get our self-worth from the value God puts on us. We are valuable because we are made in God’s image and because of the price God paid for us. We have no intrinsic value in ourselves apart from God.
Matthew 11:29 and other Scriptures put forth Christ as the supreme example of humility. Philippians 2 is a well-known passage that describes the marvelous humility of Christ. Verses 3-5 tell us to imitate Christ, ” Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (NASU) This chapter goes on to describe Christ’s humility in terms of leaving heaven in order to come to earth to allow Himself to be humiliated and painfully executed in an unjust manner. That is the supreme example of regarding others as more important than self.
The command in Philippians 2:3 to regard others as more important than ourselves is hard enough but Romans 12:10 raises the bar, “Give preference to one another in honor.” (NASU) We are called to give preference and honor others above ourselves. This raises some difficult questions. Do I think mainly in terms of my own needs and desires? Do I consider what I want to be the most important facet of any issue? Am I biased or prejudiced in any way? I suspect that no human answer that with a no. I think almost every single one of us is biased and prejudiced against every other person no matter their race, color, or creed. We certainly do not regard others as more important than ourselves.
In addition, we often let cultural, ethnic, or economic issues affect us. One of the most difficult issues to overcome is that we often treat people who might be able to help us (now or later) differently than those we are sure could never help us. That is a difficult problem indeed! Some additional questions are in order. Do I resent persons who have a higher economic status than myself? Do I resent persons who have a lower economic status? Am I suspicious of persons with a different race or ethnicity than myself? Do I resent those with more (or less) education than myself? Do I harbor hostility to any other group of people? Do I associate only with those of the same socio-economic background as myself? I am afraid that I am not even capable of honestly answering the questions in these last two paragraphs. I suspect that only God can answer these questions about me or you. Asking God to reveal these things to us just might foster revival in our heart, church, community, and nation.