6 Aspects of Humility

If humility is not compliance with relativism and is not sophomoric skepticism, what is it? This is important, since the Bible says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5), and “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). God has told us at least six things about humility.

1. Humility begins with a sense of subordination to God in Christ.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. (Matthew 10:24)

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. (1 Peter 5:6)

2. Humility does not feel a right to better treatment than Jesus got.

If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matthew 10:25)

Therefore humility does not return evil for evil. It is not life based on its perceived rights.

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps; . . . while suffering, He uttered no threats, but handed [his cause] over to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:21-23)

3. Humility asserts truth not to bolster ego with control or with triumphs in debate, but as service to Christ and love to the adversary.

Love rejoices in the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

What I [Jesus] tell you in the darkness, speak in the light. . . . Do not fear. (Matthew 10:27-28)

We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)

4. Humility knows it is dependent on grace for all knowing and believing.

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

In humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

5. Humility knows it is fallible, and so considers criticism and learns from it; but also knows that God has made provision for human conviction and that he calls us to persuade others.

We see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

A wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Proverbs 12:15)

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. (2 Corinthians 5:11)

6. Humility is to believe in the heart and confess with the lips that our life is like a vapor, and that God decides when we die, and that God governs all our accomplishments.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.