There is something self condemning about writing on this subject. This is perhaps the one virtue which is most absent in those who talk of it frequently and is more prevalent in those who shun to refer to it out of a deep, sincere sense of its absence in their lives. Having thus condemned self, what more can be said? Humility is the antithesis of all that men prize and esteem. A quick perusal of courses at your local night school will show you courses on self-esteem, self-assertion, and other similar “self” courses.
Travel to your local bookstore and the shelves will teem with titles on the very same themes. Some books go even further and promote the “virtue” of aggressive and arrogant behavior.
True humility is a rare gem even amongst believers; yet it is highly valued by God. In the one descriptive statement which the Lord made about Himself, He said , “I am meek and lowly in heart.” This was said in the context of an invitation to men to come unto Him and find rest. God has said, “To this man will I look, even to him that is of a humble and contrite heart and that trembleth at My Word.”
Peter reminds us of how essential it is to all relationships amongst believers (1 Pet 5:5). Paul in his great Christologic passage in Philippians 2 shows us that the essence of humility is not a self-centered sense of unworthiness, but an others-centered sense of worth. What better antidote for all the ills which befall us in our relationships than a mind which esteems the welfare of others of more importance than our own?
But humility is not the exclusive need of the believers; it is an essential requirement of all leaders. A humble mind, the mind of Christ, will enable a shepherd to value his fellow elders and to respect and appreciate the differences which God has brought together to help lead the assembly. It will also give him the critically needed “others-mentality” when dealing with the saints. He will realize that he is not leading the saints for his own aggrandizement but for the good of the sheep; it is not his will, word, and ways which are essential. It is rather the will, words, and ways of God for the blessing of His people.
In the Old Testament, God spoke to Solomon and promised that ” … if My people … shall humble themselves … then will I hear from heaven…” (2 Chron 7:14). The remainder of the book of Chronicles details what happened when leaders either humbled themselves or refused to be humbled (2 Chr 12:6,7,12; 30:11; 32:26; 33:12,19,23; 34:27; 36:12).
Ultimately, however, humility is delightful to God because it is Christ-likeness (Phil 2:5-8). This precious fruit of the vine can only be known in our lives by abiding in the Vine. It is not self occupation with our failures, shortcomings, weakness, sin, and unworthiness. It is by occupation with His perfection, grace, tenderness, gentleness, and beauty that we will develop, perhaps unbeknownst to ourselves, this virtue of exceeding worth and value.