Philippians 2:1-11; 1 Peter 5:5-11
Humility, simply put, is that state of mind depicting a modest opinion of oneself. It is one of the greatest attributes of a christian, without which one’s claim to be in Christ is not genuine. True humility must be spontaneous, genuine and not out of sheer hypocrisy so as to achieve a selfish end. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul mentions why the attributes of humility must be found among christians.
To understand this passage and why Paul found it necessary to talk about humility among christians, it may be necessary to discuss the circumstances and context under which he wrote about humility amongst believers. There was a great disharmony among members of the Philippian church as a result of lack of humility. He therefore reminded them that if their claim to be united with Christ is genuine, then they should purge themselves of selfishness and conceit and embrace humility, counting others better than them.
By selfishness, he meant self ambition, personal prestige and considering oneself only which gave rise to seeing every other person as an enemy to be eliminated. Others’ interest must come before theirs. Humility breeds love as shown by Jesus Christ whose life was free from selfishness, personal ambition and prestige, and should be emulated by christians. He did not lay much premium on his divinity.
For instance, Christ, though he was God, did not claim equality with God the Father. He was born in the likeness of man. Jesus humbled himself even to the point of death, even death on the cross and God rewarded him by exalting him and giving him the name above all names, at which every knee both in heaven and on earth must bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God.
While Paul gave these words of exhortation to christians in Philippi concerning humility, Peter also admonished believers especially, the younger generation, to be humble to the elders: “Likewise, you that are younger; be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another; for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)
Emphasis here is that God hates pride but gives grace to the humble. Again, God never fails to exalt the humble appropriately.
Significance of Humility to the Christian or Lessons to Learn About Humility or Rewards of Humility
- God hates the proud but exalts the humble.
- God gives His Grace to the humble.
- Whatever we do on earth attracts reward or punishment.
- Whatever a man sows, that he reaps.
- Lowliness of spirit brings honour.
- Young people should always humble themselves before their elders, and not despise them as being old breed.
- Christians should learn from Jesus’ humility.
- Lowliness of the spirit creates harmony among people.
- “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
Attributes of Humility or How Christians Can Show Humility
- Humility and respect for elders.
- Selfless service to humanity or to church.
- Showing love to one another.
- Showing respect to one’s parents and elders.
- Being of the same mind in the society.
- Purging ourselves of selfishness or conceit.
- Counting others better than ourselves.
- Not boasting of one’s ability or achievements but always placing them at the disposal of God and man.
- Not running after material things but striving daily to live the good life in Christ, with humility and thanksgiving to God.
- Being obedient.
- The word of God is clear enough. Pride goes before a fall.
- The humble lifestyle of Jesus serves as an example to every christian in terms of humility and its reward.