Humility: something we are born to hate

Posted on · Posted in Sanctification, Shaping Influences

People don’t like humility, we hate it. The biblical concept of humility is one of helplessness, being in total dependence upon someone else. Even as I write these words, I can hear someone saying, “that’s not true! People accomplish all kinds of things everyday without help from other people.”

Well, that may possibly be true with regard to other humans. But no one accomplishes anything apart from the express will and plan of God. We seldom think of God with that amount of reach and power into our personal lives. However, James gets it right when he says:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

This is why we hate humility – we think we can take care of ourselves. Such a notion is stupidity in action. 

Ruth Younts, in her book, “Get Wisdom!” defines humility this way:

“Humility is knowing that everything good in me comes from God alone, and is not for my benefit first, but serving God and others. I shouldn’t put myself first.”

That pretty much nails it. This is why your children hate humility. Their only desire is to put themselves first. This is why adults hate humility. We are prone to think there is a lot about us to like.

But there is a problem with our reasoning. Jesus Christ is the model for humility. Ruth goes on to say, “Jesus humbled himself by becoming a man, born as a baby. Apart from God’s gifts, you are as helpless as a newborn baby. You have nothing to be proud of except God.”

Ouch – as helpless as a newborn? 

This is why Paul says that we should consider others better than ourselves. (Phil. 2:3) Notice there is no qualifier for others. This means that among those whom you are to consider better than yourself would be your angry teenagers, your selfish spouse, your unkind boss, your President. 

Time for another ouch!

If you and I are going to begin to experience the power of God in our lives, embracing humility is where we must start. If we are going to make an impact for good in lives of the problem “others” we must begin with humility. 

Ruth offers a prayer for parents to teach to children about humility. It works just as well for you and me. Here it is:

Father, thank you for Jesus, who humbled himself for sinners like me, when he didn’t have to. Please help me to put others first like Jesus did; so often I put myself first. Help me to be humble instead of proud and to think of others and try to serve them first. In Jesus’ name,


Taken from Get Wisdom!

Get Wisdom

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.