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TEXT: Proverbs 16:18-19
SUBJECT: Proverbs #16: Humility
Humilty and its equivilents come from two words in the Hebrew tongue, one relatively passive in voice, the other, quite active. Combined, they demonstrate its true nature.
The first derives from SHAPEL, which simply means "low". It is occasionally used in a physical sense, to describe, e.g., foothils in comparison to mountains or an old roof which droops down under the weight of a winter's rain, or an ox which crouches under a heavy load or even a man who bows before his king. But normally, of course, it is used in a figurative sense, and means "to be low, little, or insignificant in your own opinion".
The second word is translated from ANA, which greatly intensifies the idea. We may fairly define it thusly, "To bring low--violently!" Thus it is used to describe Joseph's misery in the Egyptian prison, or Israel's hardship under the lash of Pharoah, or the humiliation of God's enemies, or even our Lord's affliction at Mount Calvary. And anyone who knows how entrenched pride is in the human heart realizes that it is never easily removed.
"Humility" therefore amounts to this: "Lowliness of mind". Such a conclusion agrees with both sound reason and infallible Scripture. Thus, consider:
Humility is the opposite of pride. But pride means "thinking highly of yourself". Humility, therefore, must mean "thinking lowly of yourself".
So it is used throughout the New Testament, especially in Paul's Epistles. In Romans 12:3, he forbids his readers to "think more highly of themselves than they ought". In Ephesians 4:1-2, he encourages us to "Walk worthy of our calling...with all lowliness and gentleness". In Philippians 2:3, he combines the two thusly, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."
"Humility", like every other virtue, may be counterfeited. In the third chapter of Colossians, Paul twice mentions "false humilities", i.e., attitudes, words, and acts, which appear immensely humble to man, but are found wanting before God.
What psychologists call "Low Self-Esteem" is a counterfeit humility.
This condition is most often found in teenaged girls. "I'm ugly, fat, stupid, unpopular. I'll never get married, have children, or own a home." This spirit often leads to drug addiction, starvation, withdrawal from society, and too often, suicide.
But before we ascribe this condition to humility, let's take a moment to analyze it. 1. What is this girl thinking about? Her appearance, her weight, her intellect, her status, and her future. 2. What is she not thinking about? The glory of God or the welfare of others. 3. What do we call that trait which focuses all attention upon oneself and none upon others? Humility???? PRIDE!!!
The Lack of Assurance is a counterfeit humility.
There are many Christian who believe that assurance of one's salvation is the height of presumption, and that doubt, tentativeness, uncetainty, and the like display true brokenness of heart.
But let's think about it. I would pose to such a man four questions: 1. Why don't you have assurance? Personal failure, i.e., "I don't pray enough, I don't read the Bible enough, I don't witness enough, I don't come to church enough, etc." 2. How much praying, reading, witnessing, and church-going would be enough to assure you before God? "More! Maybe four hours of prayer, two hours of reading, twenty people per day, and every service without exception. 3. What do we call salvation by prayer, reading, witnessing, and church going? A works-righteousness. 4. What is the cause of a "righteouness by works?" Humility??? Was that the Jews' besetting sin? Too much humility? We call it PRIDE!!!
The Withdrawal from Public Worship is a counterfeit humility.
More than a few Christians reason thusly: 1. To worship God without sincerity is the height of pride. 2. But when Sunday moring comes, he feels insincere, cold, sluggish, etc. 3. Therefore, he "humbly" stays home.
But such reasoning neglects at least two central facts:
He is commanded by God to attend public worship.
Public worship is one of the means by which God sanctifies His People, i.e., "makes them sincere".
This man, however has just disobeyed God and doubted His means of grace.
But what is the cause of disobedience and unbelief? Humility? Was it lowliness of mind which caused Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and doubt that they would die? If you check the record, you will discover that they doubted and disobeyed with the hope of becoming "like God", which is another way of saying PRIDE!!!
Abandoning Christian Fellowship is a counterfeit humility.
A man believes that "everyone in the church is holier, smarter, or stronger" than himself. And if he should fellowship with them, they would soon discover his his sin, ignorance, or weakness. He would thus feel "unworthy" in their presence, and therefore, withdraws from them.
But this sense of "unworthiness" does not stem from humility. For consider the questions and inexorable conclusion: 1. Why does he feel "unworthy"? Because he is not accepted, respected, or admired. 2. Why does this so frighten him? Because he longs to be accepted, respected or admired. 3. What do we call the desire to be accepted, respected, or admired by men? Humility??? PRIDE!!!
Denying God's Grace or Gifts is a counterfeit humility.
Many Christians excuse their sloth by denying the grace and gifts which God has bestowed upon them. They imagine that if they should try to do something for God's glory it would be presumptuous.
But this too is false. I will cite but one example. Isaiah 6.
The Mere Confession of Sin is a counterfeit humility.
Now that we know what "humility is not", let us proceed to demonstrate, by God's grace, "what it is" or better yet--how it is expressed.
Humility is expressed with regard to yourself. If you want it in a few words, here is what it amounts to: NO SELF IMAGE.
II Corinthians 5:15
I Corinthians 6:20
Humility is expressed toward others by:
Humility is expressed toward God in three ways:
Abject confession, Job, e.g.
Boasting in Christ, I Corinthians 1:ult.
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