“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,”
Matthew 23:12 NIV
“…that beating taught me humility in this sense. It taught me never to think that I was better than anyone else. It taught me that on any given day, you can be beaten. This always helped push me to prepare for my bouts. A few years later, after I knocked out Joe Frazier and won the heavyweight title, I forgot that lesson in humility and again, I had to pay the price by getting beaten and embarrassed by Muhammad Ali in Zaire.”
Humility is a subject that great thinkers of the world take seriously. John Buchan, British diplomat and author, declared, “Without humility there can be no humanity.” Solomon said, “A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Proverbs 29:23) and “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Pride brings shame; humility wisdom. Jesus put it this way, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Sounds to me like humility is a pretty serious subject. But what is authentic humility?
Four Quick Points of Authentic Humility
Humble people recognize their dependency on God
Dependency on God does not mean we shouldn’t use our heads. Dependency is looking to God for direction and recognizing His ability to orchestrate the affairs of our lives—acknowledging God’s role by seeking Him for direction instead of forging out on our own presumptuously. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
Humble people are secure in who they are.
Humble people do not belittle themselves. They do not act insignificantly or inadequately because they know they are valuable just as they are, flaws and all. Therefore, there is no need to prove anything or elevate themselves. They know who they are in Christ, that they are valuable because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). They know that there is nothing they can do that will make Him love them less and there is nothing they can do that will make Him love them more.
Humble people are interdependent.
They are aware that they do not know all the answers and that there may be others who are more intelligent, have more experience, and are more gifted. They are not independent or codependent; they are interdependent. They are team players who perceive the value of input from others. It’s staggering what we can accomplish if we are humble enough to surround ourselves with the right people.
Humble people are real.
Keith Miller wrote in his book, A Hunger for Healing that, “Humility is seeing ourselves as we actually are, good and bad, strong and weak, and acting authentically on those truths.” Humble people have looked in the mirror of their souls and have taken an honest inventory. They realize there will always be the need for growth and that conforming into Christ’s image is a lifelong process. Humble people understand their need for grace in their own lives and therefore can give grace to others. The Apostle Paul was a great example. He knew he was a new creation in Christ, covered in His righteousness. But the same Paul who taught us that also said, “I am less than the least of all God’s people” (Ephesians 3:8). Paul understood true humility. Do you?
This devotional is an excerpt from Ignite Your Faith by Dr. Tim Clinton & Max Davis.