A Lesson in Humility

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

John 16.25-33“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26 On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.”

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

The “we know” of pride

There are several excellent themes in these verses, but I am only going to focus on one, the need for humility.

In verse 30, the disciples began their words with “we know.” The same was true of Nicodemus (John 3.2) and the religious authorities who sought to accuse Jesus (John 9.29).

Whenever we come to God with a “we know” statement of our own, pride is probably lurking around the corner. Pride is very deceptive and it is easy for people to slip into pride without being aware of it. I think the disciples were not aware that they needed another lesson in humility. However, Jesus gave them one, when he told them that they would run away and leave him to suffer alone.

Humility does not seem to be a significant value in our culture. It is associated with being weak, spineless, and easy to exploit. When was the last time you saw a bumper sticker touting, “American Humility,” “Union Humble” or something like that?

However, there is a value in humility, so let’s explore two ways humility is essential to living a full life.

The Value of Humility

(1) Humility is most important, because it opens the door to a personal relationship with God.

Jesus used a child to demonstrate the value of humility by placing the child in the middle of his followers and saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).

When my autistic grandson gets stuck on a problem, instead of having a meltdown, he says, “I need help.” That is a good picture of the humility of a child. Children know they need help and are not afraid to ask for it.

How many people have been lost while driving, but too proud to stop and ask for directions? I discovered Mission Hills Kansas in 1984, while attempting to find the University of Kansas Medical Center because my pride wouldn’t allow me to stop and ask for directions. While my being lost may be funny, being eternally lost is not.

Humility helps us to be willing to ask God for directions. The humble person can ask God to teach them how best to live. We drop the “we know” attitude, and instead ask God, “What do I need to know?”

(2) Humility is essential to sobriety. I Googled “humility and sobriety” today and there were over 2.3 million websites devoted to the subject. Obviously, somebody thinks humility is an important issue. The “Alcohol Rehab” website describes how humility can benefit people in recovery, but also speaks strongly to everyone.

— Humility means that people are not afraid to ask questions. People who ask questions may feel stupid for a few moments, but people who never ask questions will always remain stupid.

— Humble people find it easy to pick up new knowledge. They are always learning new and useful things. This is because they do not arrogantly assume they already have all the answers.

— If people hope to follow a spiritual path in recovery, then they will find that developing humility will be a key ingredient. It is impossible to develop a more spiritual way of living without this humble attitude.

— People with this attitude are far less likely to relapse. They won’t become overconfident or begin to take their sobriety for granted. They will cherish their life away from addiction.

— Humble individuals are never short of friends. They are just so easy to be around that people cherish their company.

Pride – the root of the world’s pain.

I didn’t conduct a Google search on the subject of pride. The author of Proverbs makes it clear what happens to people whose inside condition is full of pride. He wrote,

“Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Proverbs 16:18).

The prophet Jeremiah wept over God’s people because their pride kept them from listening to God, and knew that their pride would lead them to destruction. He said:

“But if you will not listen,
my soul will weep in secret for your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,
because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive”
(Jeremiah 13:17).

Jesus is the source of all humility.

If we desire to leave pride and embrace humility, we need to learn from the greatest example of all, Jesus.

In humility, Jesus never came to the Father with a statement of “we know,” full of his own best thinking. Jesus wants us to know what is the source of his abundant life, his power, and his personality, his joy, and every other aspect of his magnificent Being. This is what Jesus had to say about himself and how he lived his life before God and people.

Note: I am listing a large number of references to strongly emphasize that this was the way, and the only way, Jesus lived with the Father. If we are going to live a Jesus-kind-of-life, we will pay close attention to how he lived his.

John 5.19“The Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing . . .”

John 5.30 “I can do nothing on my own. . . I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

John 5.41 “I do not accept glory from human beings.”

John 6.38“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

John 7.16 Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.”

John 8:28 – “I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.”

John 8.42 “I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

John 8.50 – “I do not seek my own glory . . .”

John 14.10 “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”

John 14.24“The word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.”

Once again, Jesus never came to the Father with an “I know” attitude. Rather, he sought the Father’s direction in all things. I repeat, his humble spirit is the source of his amazing life and ministry. What can we do to join Jesus in his style of living?

How do we learn the Jesus-kind-of-humility?

Here are four suggestions that will help us leave pride and embrace humility. Remember, humility is the foundation for our relationship with God and for living like Jesus.

(1) We have to desire it. Overcoming our self, our know-it-all attitude, and ingrained arrogance is not easy. A resolve to live like Jesus in his humility will get us started.

(2) Get better acquainted with Jesus by reading about his life in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Talk to Jesus about what you read in these books. His friendship will transform your life over time. Pride will fade away and humility will surface more and more.

(3) Daily tell the Holy Spirit that you are dependent on him for the day. Ask the Spirit to lead your prayer and Bible reading time. Ask Him to help you in every aspect of your day – work, play, and family time.

(4) Steps #2 and #3 emphasize prayer, because prayer is where humility and every other Christ-like character trait is developed. Specifically talk to God about your pride. Confess your arrogance when it is revealed to you. Ask God to develop in you a broken and a contrite heart (Psalm 51.17 and Isaiah 57.15).

Today’s Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the amazing example of humility that we see in Jesus. Please forgive our pride and arrogance. Please help us to live with you in such a way that our pride fades away and we begin to live in the humility and obedience of your Son.

2 Comments

  1. Humility does bring us closer to Christ. It sets the bar high….

    My grandparents were humble. Like their example, my dad is humble. Their humility has always been rooted in their relationships with Jesus.

    What a blessing for my life to have grown up with those examples – to see these Scriptures borne out in lives of people close to me.

    However, my insecurities tend to keep me seeking approval before I act…which is, quite frankly, pride! Isn’t it ironic that most with self-image issues are really struggling with pride.

    Humility looks to Jesus in all things and does not concern itself with self-image. True humility, therefore, provides a healthy view of self rooted in how Jesus sees me.

    I’m working on this. In all things…not me, but Christ in me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise. I resonate with your words. I have similar issues. I have prayed the verses in this article that outline Jesus’ relationship with the Father for me. I so need to live like that. Good news, God answers prayer. I am looking for changed in my character. Your comments are a blessing. I hope lots of people read them.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s