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What is Humility?

Photo credit: Mtsofan via Photopin, CC

I love humble people. They have no need to constantly prove themselves right and the other person wrong. They are at peace because they are not preoccupied with themselves. They are strong because they know that they can just be themselves, and in being themselves they glorify the God who made them. Humility is the surest sign of strength.—Thomas Merton

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Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.—Rick Warren

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True humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit … but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.—Tryon Edwards

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Learn to be humble but not timid. Some people mistake timidity for humility. But humility is a virtue; timidity is an affliction.—Jim Rohn

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Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself.—William Temple

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Don’t imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he won’t be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who’s always telling you that, of course, he’s nobody. Probably all you’ll think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He won’t be thinking about himself at all. There I must stop. If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you’re not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.—C. S. Lewis

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The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life: In himself, nothing; in God, everything. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.—A. W. Tozer

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A heart that understands what is implicit in God’s tenderness is humbled beyond any hope of goodness or worth in itself.—Marian Scheele

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I am sure that there are many Christians who will confess that their experience has been very much like my own—that we had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart should be the distinguishing feature of the disciple, as they were of the Master. Such humility is not a thing that will come on its own. It must be made the object of special desire, prayer, faith and practice.—Andrew Murray

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I looked up humility in the Bible dictionary, and it had an interesting write-up. The definition there is “a freedom from arrogance that grows out of the recognition that all we have and are comes from God.” It goes on to say, “The Greek philosophers despised humility, because it implied inadequacy, lack of dignity, and worthlessness to them. This is not the meaning of humility as defined by the Bible. Jesus is the supreme example of humility, and He is completely adequate and of infinite dignity and worth. Biblical humility is not a belittling of oneself, but an exalting or praising of others, especially God and Jesus. A humble person, then, focuses more on God and others than on himself.

“Biblical humility is also a recognition that by ourselves we are inadequate, without dignity and worthless. Yet, because we were created in God’s image and because we’re believers in Christ, we have infinite worth and dignity. True humility does not produce pride but gratitude. Since God is both our Creator and Redeemer, our existence and righteousness depend on Him.”

Something that I especially like about this definition and explanation is that it shows that humility isn’t belittling yourself or being negative about yourself or dwelling on your weaknesses and your inadequacies, but rather that you are praising the Lord that, because He saved us and because He created us, and because He lives in us, we have worth.

Humility isn’t dwelling on our inadequacies; it’s dwelling on the Lord’s adequacy. It’s dwelling on the fact that the Lord works through us; that, as weak and as incapable as we are, miraculously, He can actually work through us and use us. It’s wonderful, and it’s really a good way to look at things.—Peter Lerwick 

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[Speaking of a prayer push for 40 days with fellow believers:] What if we approached our spirituality like a scientist who does experiments? Granted, there is a mystical element to it. But what if we tested the promises of God? I’m not talking about “testing God.” I’m talking about a testing that derives from trust. You test because you trust. … What would happen if we genuinely humbled ourselves and hit our knees every day? I intend to find out.

Now let me be honest. Day one was discouraging. I flew down to Baton Rouge to speak and I felt tired, I felt distracted, I felt very little anointing. I can’t really explain it. But on the plane ride back it was like the Holy Spirit said, “Did you think this would be that easy?” We want to sow and reap instantaneously. We want to plant the seed and harvest it on the same day. No. If it was easy we wouldn’t even appreciate it. We’d probably mishandle the anointing, mishandle the blessing. This isn’t about what God does on day one, day ten, or even day forty. It’s about establishing a humility habit. We’re going to stop, drop, and pray. We’re going to hit our knees every day! Our MO [modus operandi] isn’t ASAP—as soon as possible. Our MO is ALAT—as long as it takes.

Humbling ourselves is the process of dying to self, dying to sin. And dying to self is anything but easy. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. And it’s painful. But if you press in, press on, press through, you’ll look back and marvel at who you are and who you were. Your old selfish and sinful self will become a stranger. You’ll look back and say, “Who was I?” You won’t even feel like the same person.

I feel like I’m having contractions in prayer. Not sure how else to describe it. It’s like the Holy Spirit is birthing something new in me. I’m not even sure what to name it. But I know that whatever it is, it will bring new life. He’s plowing new soil in my heart. He’s planting new seeds. And there will be a harvest of newness. Will it require some pruning? Absolutely! But old things have to die if you want new things to come to life. Old habits give way to new habits. Old thoughts give way to new thoughts. Old routines give way to new routines. Old songs give way to new songs. Old mercies give way to new mercies. It’s a new day. It’s a new normal.Mark Batterson

Photo credit: Mtsofan via Photopin, CC

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