Humility is analogous to meekness ie it has properties similar to those of meekness. Infact all the virtues classified as the fruit of the spirit are interwoven in characteristics ie they share properties with each other and in some cases, no clear demarcation can be drawn between two or more.
Humility is a much touted virtue, but apparently poorly understood, as indicated by the attitude and behaviour of multitudes of Church focks.
We shall describe the highly cherished virtue, see the manifestation of its lack in the Church circles; and conclude with the benefits of the virtue and its acquisition.
The Chamber’s 21st Century Dictionary of English language defined humility as ‘the state of being humble’. The word humble means ‘having a low opinion of oneself and one’s abilities’.
The Greek word Tapěinŏs (pronounced tap-i-nos) was translated ‘humble’ in Jas.4:6, 1Pt.5:5, and it means ‘depressed’, ie figuratively humiliated (in disposition or circumstances). Primarily it means that which is low and does not rise far from the ground. It was also translated: lowly (Matt.11:29) of low degree (Lk.1:52, Jas.1:9); base (2Cor.10:1); cast down (2Cor.7:6); low estate (Rom.12:16).
In the Bible (KJV), the word humility or humbleness (GK tapěinŏphrŏsune) derived its root from ‘humble’ (Tapěinŏs), and literally means humiliation of mind or modesty (ie not having or showing pride, not pretentious or showy or pompous).
The Hebrew word translated humility (in Prov.15:33, 18:12, 22:4) was ‘ănâvâh (pronounced an-aw-vaw) means, ‘condescension’(ie acting in a gracious manner towards those one regards as inferior). it was also translated gentleness (Ps.18:35) and Meekness (Zeph.2:3).
In the believer humility is generated, when through genuine self evaluation the Person deems himself worthless; not necessarily stressing his sinfulness but rather his frailty as a creature who has absolute dependence on God. Humility is therefore that awareness of one’s nothingness that comes upon a believer, when he sees God as all in all (cons. Rom.12:3, 1Cor.4:7, 2Cor.4:7). It is a state of the mind; and a principal characteristic of Christlikeness and sonship (cons. Matt.11:28,29, Phil.2:3-5). It is a show of strength; and an expression of knowledge (cp. Matt.5:25).
It was displayed by Jacob (Gen.32:9,10), Saul (1Sam.9:21), David (2Sam.7:16-18, Ps.131:1-2), Solomon (1Kgs.3:7-9), John the Baptist (Matt.3:14, Jn.3:26-30), the Centurion in Capernaum (Matt.8:8), the Syrophenician woman (Matt.15:25-27) and Paul (1Tim.1:15).
The disciple is required to put on this state of the mind, as it is essential for good relationship with both God and men (cons. Mic.6:8, Matt.11:29, 18:34, 23:11-12, Phil.2:5, Col.3:12, Jas.4:10, 1Pt.5:5,6).
It should be noted that humility is not same as inferiority complex nor is it possession of low self esteem; rather a child of God is expected to know the Person residing in him, and consequently put value on himself (cons. Rev.5:10, 1:6, 1Jn.4:4, 1Pt.2:9, 2Cor.11:16-23, 10:17, Acts 16:35-40).
Humility though an indispensable Christian quality is regrettably widely lacking in the Church as evidenced in the lives of many church folks. This manifests as: Blowing of personal trumpets (cons. Prov.27:1-2, 2Cor.10:18); Strife and contention in the home and in the Church (cons. Prov.13:10, 1Cor.1:11, 11:16); Arrogance (1Sam.2:3, Prov.8:13, 2Jn.9-11); Disrespect for elders and authority (cons. Jude 8-10, 1Tim.5:1-2 cp. Rom.16:7); Refusal to go for counselling while laddened with frailties, lusts and besetting sins (cons. Jas.5:16, Prov.11:14, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20, 24:6); Refusal to make restitution because of the associated shame (cons. Prov.28:13, cp. Prov.1:20-31); Attitude of over bearing self confidence and despising of the weaker (Lk.18:10-12, 1Cor.8:2, 10:12 cp. Gal.6:1-2); Implacability (cons. Matt.18:23-30); Position-consciousness (Mk.9:33,34, 10:35-37, Jn.8:33,39 9:28,34,40-41, 1Cor.4:18); Indifference to challenging sermons because of either one’s age in the assembly or one’s seniority to the minister (cons. Rev.3:15-17, Jn.9:28-34); Refusal to teach indicting messages from the head office thereby starving the flock of God (cons. Ezk.34:1-10, Acts 20:28, 1Pt.5:2,3); Power intoxication manifesting as authoritativeness, making of unguarded statements, offence taking when corrected, ungodly boldness, refusal to show remorse after apparent wrong doing etc (cons. Deut.32:15, Ps.141:5, 1Pt.5:3); False sense of spiritual attainment and hence focussing on the deficiencies of others (cons. Matt.7:3-5, 1Cor.8:2, cp Phil.3:12-13).
We shall later look at the consequences of lack of humility (Pride) and the course to humbleness of life.