The message of humility is foundational to the advancement of the church in this day and age. God is calling His church to take on humility. Humble is the word that we as Christians should want Christ to write over us. As I looked up the meaning of the word humble, I found such definitions as modest, low in rank, not proud, modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. As I look for a biblical definition, this is what I like, “When you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance, you know that your flesh is inadequate, yet you also know that you are in Christ.”
2 Timothy 3 says that in the last days men will become proud, arrogant, and boastful. It goes on to say that they also lack the power of God. Could it be that the lack of power in today’s church is because it has lost humility? Could it be that the church has put more importance on education and intelligence and less importance on the infilling and power of the Holy Spirit?
If I think about humility I must think of the opposite, which is pride and arrogance. What was it that caused the angels to be kicked out of heaven? What was it that caused Satan to be kicked out of heaven? It was pride. Pride is satanic. When I say it that way it sends chills all over my body. We have allowed ourselves to be deceived into thinking that in our natural abilities we can do what only God can do.
There is a book by Andrew Murray called “Humility.” It is a small book but it is one that should be in every Christian’s library and should be read once a year. It goes along with others such as A.W. Tozier’s “The Pursuit of God.” It is powerful. It has chapters that are only two or three pages long but will take you days to digest. Murray says: “And so pride, the loss of humility, is the root of every sin and evil…In heaven and on earth, pride and self-exaltation is the very gateway to hell. And so it follows that nothing can save us but the restoration of our lost humility, the original and only true relationship of the creature to its God. And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth to make us partakers of it and by it to save us. In heaven, he humbled himself to become a man, the humility we see in Him possessed him in heaven, it brought him here to earth, He humbled himself and became obedient to death. His humility gave His death its value…His humility became our salvation, his salvation became our humility.”
I’ve never really looked at it that way—that we are being saved from pride. We are being saved from our own self-exaltation that separates us from God. When I say that it all starts here, I mean that this is the foundation. This is one of those blocks, those cornerstones that we must build on if we are going to be the church that God is calling us to be.
Today we send those who are talented and gifted off to seminary, and I’m not putting that down, but sometimes we depend more on that than we do on the power of the Holy Spirit within them. When I look at the scriptural qualifications of a deacon or elder, it says that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter how much money they make or how much influence they have in the community or how many letters they have behind their name. It matters how full of the Holy Spirit they are.
As 2 Timothy 3:1 says, we have become “…lovers of self, lovers of pleasure…” That is a result of pride and a lack of humility. When we look at Jesus’ heart, we see that He served everyone else—not Himself. That is the heart of God. In humility we cease from the works of the flesh that exalt our self-righteousness, that makes us feel good about ourselves, that makes us look good in front of other people. We rest in what Christ has done on the cross. Through that humility, through resting in Him, through the grace that he gives us to have humility, it becomes our nature. Humility is what God has restored to us. The fall of man took it away from u,s but Christ came that we could have the fullness of humility back again. It means so much to me to say that we have become partakers of the divine nature.
Our governor, Bill Haslam, recently was quoted at a high school graduation as saying, “When I walk into a room, it’s not ‘Here I am’ but ‘There you are.’” That’s what the divine nature of humility is like. Humility says when it walks in the room, “How can I serve you? How can I lift you up? How can I help make you all that God created you to be?”
Let’s go to Matthew 11:29. Jesus says: “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. For I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” Here is Jesus describing His chief attribute, that he was humble. This world sees the church as prideful and arrogant, a kind of country club for the righteous. His Kingdom advances through the humble though. It advances through those who are willing to abase themselves, willing to say “I surrender my will, my comfort, and those things that make me look good.”
You can’t make yourself humble on your own. It’s a part of the sanctification process. It’s a part of God’s grace. It’s the other half of the gospel. I grew up believing that all you had to do was to say a prayer and try to live a good life. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is that you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He came to earth, bled and died, was buried, resurrected, and arose. Not only that, but He also gives us the power to live a righteous life, a humble life. The source of humility is not from our own flesh but through the power of the blood of Christ over our lives and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do humility. We are humility. That’s who we are. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we can do it on our own. We can’t do it on our own. It’s all by His power, by the miracle of His blood, by His grace that we are able to walk a humble life, to consider others better than ourselves.
James 4:6 in the Amplified Bible gives us further insight, “He gives us more and more grace, power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully, that is why He says ‘God sets Himself against the proud and haughty but gives grace continually to the lowly’, those who are humble enough to receive it.” The more humble I am, the more grace I get; the lower I get, the more power I receive from the Holy Spirit. That proves right there what I said earlier about the verse in Timothy, that the church’s lack of power is because of a lack of humility. He gives us power through humility. Humility is not seen in our nation’s leaders standing up defiantly saying, “We will rebuild.” It’s humbling ourselves before God and turning from our wicked ways, acknowledging Him with prayer and fasting, asking God to change our hearts, our souls, our minds, that our country will be saved, that our families will be saved, that Oak Ridge will be saved.
It all starts here. It starts with humility, it proceeds with humility, and it ends with humility. Through that humility, that bowing down, that consideration of others as better than ourselves, God will work through us to change this community. It’s not in a preacher, it’s not in any special accolades or gifts that we have, but it is through our humility that God will change this community.
Romans 12:1-2 means so much more to me now, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. That’s the humility part of it. You have an option here. You can receive what God has called us to do, or you can go on wandering in the desert. You can go from church to church to church trying to find the one that sings the kind of music you like or preaches the way you like. But God is calling a people that will humble themselves, not being concerned about the peripheral things but will be concerned about a lost and dying world, be concerned about people in the body of Christ who are hurting, praying for someone for hours if need be, or lay down their lives and serve meals to someone. Not so that someone will pat you on the back. No, it’s not about you. It’s about Him.
We’ve come to the crisis of belief. I’ve given the word that God wanted me to give. It’s up to you to decide which road you will take today. We can’t afford for your heart to be anything but humble. The city of Oak Ridge cannot afford for our hearts to be anything but humble.
Rich Bean is the lead pastor of a new church in Oak Ridge called Living Water Fellowship. The church is centered around authentic New Testament Christianity; is committed to the unrestricted flow of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit; and intends to affect change in the community through evangelistic outreach and fervent prayer. For more information call (865) 323-3546 or (865) 405-5071.