A lot of us think humility means debasing ourselves, but being humble actually means acknowledging what God has done in our lives.
The Greek word for humility originally was used by writers to communicate something negative: “groveling” or “abject.” But the Apostle Paul came along and turned it into God’s perspective. Here’s how to cultivate humility.
1. Think rightly of yourself. True humility is not thinking low of oneself but thinking “right.”
Romans 12:3 tells us God’s perspective: “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Author Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The truly humble person yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others.”
2. Give credit to God. God has given you strengths, gifts and talents and if you reject them, you are rejecting God’s provisions.
Humility means giving credit to God. And yes, each person has weaknesses. Humility acknowledges the need to receive God’s help to correct those weaknesses.
A word picture I heard years ago helps me. Sometimes a turtle shell can be found balanced on a fence post in the yards of Mid-western towns. No one believes that turtle shell was a result of the turtle climbing up onto the fence himself. No, he was placed there. You and I are like that turtle. God places us in service whether it’s called parenting, employment, ministry, volunteering, or listening. It’s His doing and we can acknowledge His work in us.
3. Be inspired by Jesus’ surrender. He knew who He was based on His identity in His Father and He didn’t depend upon the opinions of others.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-8 that the basis of humility is the surrender Jesus exemplified: “Have this attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Most likely none of us will be called to develop humility by dying for Christ’s sake, but the more we are willing to be misunderstood, maligned, gossiped about, or face any other difficulty will reveal and develop our surrender—from which springs humility.