The story is told of a man who was so humble that his city council decided to honor him with a medallion for his humility. A week after the award ceremony, the award had to be withdrawn. Much to the embarrassment of the council, the man had brashly worn the medallion everywhere he went.
This humorous story reminds me of what mystery writer Helen Nielsen once wrote: “Humility is like underwear, essential, but indecent if it shows.” According to Bible teacher John Stott, humility is “the rarest and fairest of all Christian virtues.” It’s also the chief Christian virtue because it’s the exact opposite of the worst of sins—pride.
So, is true humility possible? What does it look like? In Philippians 2, Paul gives us a portrait of the humble person. He presents four attitudes that help us understand true humility—two negatives to avoid and two positives to follow. Humble people . . .
• are not selfish (Philippians 2:3). They do “nothing out of selfish ambition” (Philippians 2:3 NIV). They aren’t self-centered.
• do not “try to impress others” (Philippians 2:3). They do “nothing out of vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3 NIV). They don’t seek glory for themselves.
• are always “thinking of others as better than [themselves]” (Philippians 2:3). They see the great value in others.
• don’t “look out only for [their] own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4). They balance the needs
of others with their own needs.
To be humble, we need to move away from “self” to “others”—pursuing lowliness (Philippians 2:3) and helpfulness (Philippians 2:4). Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe succinctly summed it up: “The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all!”
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Ruth 2:1-23
How did Jesus demonstrate His humility as revealed in Philippians 2:5-8?
How would you grade yourself on how well you’re avoiding selfish ambition and vainglory, while also thinking of others positively and putting their needs before your own? What needs to change?