What is Humility?


by Mike Ratliff

It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself – John Calvin

Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

That’s the twin reality that all genuine humility is rooted in: God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Without an honest awareness of both these realities…, all self-evaluation will be skewed and we’ll fail to either understand or practice true humility. We’ll miss out on experiencing the promise and the pleasures that humility offers. – C.J. Mahaney (from Humility – True Greatness page 21-22)

One of the first shots fired across the bow of our opponents in “disagreements” with other believers over doctrine (or really any other topic that is based in scripture interpretation) is the accusation that they are not humble. The fact that we would make such a charge at all should, in fact, cause us to question our own humility. We should never make that charge because the person we may be accusing may very well be humble if we use the definition above. He or she may know to their core that they are not holy and are very sinful in comparison to God’s perfection. However, that does not mean that he or she will not also be able to stand firm against false accusations. Please take the following devotional by Oswald Chambers to heart the next time you become involved in a “discussion” with another brother or sister in Christ in whom you are in disagreement who tells you the truth from their heart about their right standing before God and men.

"By the Grace of God I Am What I Am"

by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest

By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain . . . -1 Corinthians 15:10

The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining from God’s perspective those things that sound so humble to men. You will be amazed at how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they are to Him. We say things such as, "Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint." But to say that before God means, "No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible." That may sound wonderfully humble to others, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.

Conversely, the things that sound humble before God may sound exactly the opposite to people. To say, "Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified," is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility. It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true. Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not. But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all.

There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes, and yours may be that life.

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