How does true humility grow in the heart?
To some degree we’re probably all aware that pride lurks in the recesses of our heart and that humility is one of the deepest marks of godliness. And if we’re honest, we all have to admit that pride pokes its ugly head out in action or attitude in some way every day of our lives. So if God opposes those displays of pride, but gives grace to our pursuit of humility (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5; cf. Prov. 3:34), how can we practically pour weed-killer on the roots of pride and fertilizer on the seeds of humility?
In a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Jonathon Edwards has a profound insight into the nature of humility. Merely knowing God’s greatness, Edwards argues, is not enough to really make us humble. After all, the demons in Hell know that God is great and they certainly aren’t humble! In Edwards’ words, true humility comes from knowing God’s greatness and His loveliness. “A sense or discovery of God’s greatness, without the sight of His loveliness will not do it [create humility]; but it is the discovery of his loveliness that affects it, and that makes the soul truly humble.”
Here’s the point: humility flourishes in our hearts when we recognize that God is infinitely greater than us and then delight in His greatness and our dependence. There’s a line in one of the Valley of Vision prayers that sums it up well: “I delight to know that all things are in Your hands, and I rejoice to leave them there.” Humility knows God is God and we are not – and sings for joy because of it.
Here’s where the practical part comes in. The next time you’re alone with God and His Word, in whatever form that may take, meditate on some of the ways God is God and you’re not, and praise Him for them! Here are just a few suggestions.
Praise God that He has always existed and has no needs, while you and I are dependent for every breath.
Psalm 50:11-12: “I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.”
Acts 17:25: “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Praise God that while we experience weariness every day and need His gracious gift of sleep, He never grows tired or weary.
Psalm 121:4: “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Isaiah 40:28: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Psalm 127:2: “He gives to his beloved sleep.”
Praise God that even the food you eat today is a gift from His hand.
Psalm 145:15-16: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
Psalm 111:5: “He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.”
Praise God that our salvation comes entirely from His hand, without our efforts or good works.
Psalm 3:8: “Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!”
Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”