How Can You Show True Humility?
TRUE humility has great value in the eyes of God. James wrote: “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.” (James 4:6) Here James could have been alluding to several thoughts expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures. “Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees; but the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” “The haughty eyes of earthling man must become low, and the loftiness of men must bow down; and Jehovah alone must be put on high.” “If it has to do with ridiculers, he [God] himself will deride; but to the meek ones he will show favor.”—Psalm 138:6; Isaiah 2:11; Proverbs 3:34.
The apostle Peter also encouraged humility. He wrote: “All of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—1 Peter 5:5.
Christ’s Example of Humility
You might ask, What virtue or advantage is there in being humble? For the person striving to be a true Christian the answer is fundamental—to be humble is to be like Christ. Jesus showed his humility by accepting the unique assignment to come to earth from the heavenly realm and become a lowly human, inferior to the angels. (Hebrews 2:7) Although he was the Son of God, he endured the humiliations heaped upon him by his religious enemies. He kept his composure during his trials, even though capable of calling to his aid legions of angels.—Matthew 26:53.
Finally, Jesus hung in disgrace on the torture stake, yet remained faithful to his Father. Thus, Paul could write of him: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Philippians 2:5-8.
So how can we manifest true humility? In practical situations, how can we react in a humble rather than a proud way?
How a Humble Person Reacts
Let us consider humility in the work context, whether on the job or in the Christian service. For work to be done successfully, overseers, managers, and supervisors might be necessary. Someone has to make decisions. How do you react? Do you reason, “Who does he think he is to be telling me what to do? I have been on this job more years than he has.” Yes, if you are proud, you will chafe under subjection. On the other hand, a humble person strives to be “doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior.”—Philippians 2:3.
How do you react when a suggestion comes from a younger person or from a woman? If you are humble, you will at least consider it. If you are proud, you will resent it or reject it out of hand. Would you rather have praise and flattery that lead to your ruin or constructive counsel for your upbuilding?—Proverbs 27:9; 29:5.
Can you meet the challenge of adversity? Humility will enable you to face up to difficult circumstances and to endure, even as Job did. If you are proud, you will tend to be frustrated and may rebel at grievous circumstances and supposed slights.—Job 1:22; 2:10; 27:2-5.
Humility Is Loving and Forgiving
Some people have difficulty saying, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. You were right.” Why? Too much pride! Yet, how often a genuine apology could easily put a stop to a marital altercation.
Are you willing to forgive when someone offends you? Or, in your pride, do you hold a grudge, perhaps for days and months, refusing to speak to the supposed offender? Do you even carry on a vendetta in an effort to get even? People have been murdered in some vendettas. In others, character assassination has been the method. In contrast, a humble person is loving and forgiving. Why? Because love does not keep account of the injury. Jehovah was willing to forgive the Israelites if they would swallow their pride. The humble follower of Jesus is willing to forgive, even repeatedly!—Joel 2:12-14; Matthew 18:21, 22; 1 Corinthians 13:5.
A humble person ‘takes the lead in showing honor to another.’ (Romans 12:10) The New International Version reads: “Honor one another above yourselves.” Do you praise others and appreciate their abilities and talents? Or do you always have to find a defect to take the shine off their reputation? Yes, are you capable of genuinely praising other people? If you have difficulty in this respect, perhaps personal insecurity and pride are your problems.
A proud person is impatient. A humble person is patient and long-suffering. What about you? Do you prickle at any perceived unfavorable treatment? Such a reaction is the opposite of being long-suffering. If you are humble, you will not take yourself too seriously. Remember what happened when Jesus’ disciples took themselves too seriously—they got into heated disputes about who was to be the most important. They forgot that they were all “good-for-nothing slaves”!—Luke 17:10; 22:24; Mark 10:35-37, 41.
French writer Voltaire described humility as “the modesty of the soul . . . the antidote to pride.” Yes, humility is lowliness of mind. A humble person is modest in spirit, not proud. He is deeply respectful and courteous.
So why strive to be humble? Because humility has God’s approval and helps us to obtain divine guidance. In part because of Daniel’s humility, Jehovah considered the prophet to be someone “very desirable” and sent an angel to him with a vision! (Daniel 9:23; 10:11, 19) Humility brings many rewards. It brings true friends who love you. More than that, it brings Jehovah’s blessing. “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.”—Proverbs 22:4.
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A humble word of apology can make life smoother