A Deep Dive Into Humility, Part 1: Why?
April 21, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part one of a multi-part series diving into the biblical teaching on humility. I personally enjoy using this writing space for series like these because it gives me the opportunity to take a deeper look into specific topics that we may not be able to give as much attention to in a sermon or other teaching outlets. I have not fully mapped out this series, but I want to give attention to all the angles from which Scripture approaches humility. Today, I want to take time to answer the question: Why take a deep dive into the topic of humility?
Reason #1: The topic of humility, and its antonym pride, have been a life-long interest of mine. I was a teenager when I read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity with weekly discussion with my pastor. In this book Lewis has a chapter titled “The Great Sin.” He makes the case that pride is the greatest sin. He writes, “Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” He concludes this chapter by describing what humility is like. Again, he writes, “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays… He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.” Ever since I have read that chapter, Lewis’ words have shaped how I think about pride and humility. I have probably quoted from that chapter in my sermons over the past 25 years more than from any other work outside of the Bible.
Even with that great of an impact, I have never done a thorough study on the biblical teaching on humility. Certainly, as I have come across the topic in specific passages, like the humility of Christ in Philippians 2, I have given attention to it. But I have never focused solely on the topic of humility and sought to understand the full scope of what the Bible has to say about it. I would like to do that in this series.
Reason #2: Humility is the well-spring of all blessing and virtue. I am a member of a Facebook group for PCA pastors and elders. Recently there was a discussion about the challenges of preaching on Easter, specifically giving fresh applications. One pastor made a succinct statement that summarizes one of the convictions behind my own preaching. He said, “The best applications are attitudinal.” This statement reflects the biblical truth that our attitude and posture before God has a deeper impact on how we live and respond to specific situations than any sort of behavior modification we can produce. With this, I believe that the attitude or inner quality of humility is the gateway to every other blessing and virtue. This will come out more in our study, but let me highlight one verse. Both James and Peter quote the same Proverb when they state, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Jms. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5; quoting Prov. 3:34). In these biblical writers’ assessment, there is no gray area between pride and humility. Either God opposes you or gives you grace. Humility is the gateway to God’s grace.
The church father Augustine wrote, “Humility is the foundation of all other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” If this is true, and we are committed to our mission at Oak Hills, a longing to know and make known God’s astonishing grace, then we will eagerly dive deeply into understanding and living in humility.
Reason #3 – I desire to continue to grow in my trust in and enjoyment of God and Jesus Christ. Some of you know very well: I have not arrived at perfect holiness or Christlikeness or complete enjoyment of God. I never will in this life. But I have tasted and seen the goodness of God and desire more. So, like in all my preaching and teaching, I give myself to this study in order to grow in my own faith and walk with Christ. God opposes the proud. I know I have pride in my heart and life of which I need to repent. God uses his Word as a surgical tool to expose those areas to me. And God gives grace to the humble. I do not study and write about humility because I am the perfect example. I want to grow in humility so that I can enjoy all the more God’s astonishing grace for sinners like me.
I look forward to sharing this study with you. I pray that you will be blessed with me as we explore how God gives grace to the humble.