Oswald Chambers is one of my favorite heroes of the faith. Several years ago, I read a biography on his life. When he prayed in public, he was known to often say, “Lord clothe us with humility.” What a great prayer! It’s actually grounded in Scripture. First Peter 5:4 says, “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” Oswald Chambers desired to be lowly like Jesus. He remarked, however, that the pursuit of humility can be a tricky thing. The moment you think you have it, he said, you’ve lost it. I’ve discovered that Chamber’s observation is correct. How can we know if we are growing in this virtue? Well, the Bible has an answer. Consider three Scriptural marks of those who are humble.
Respect for others.
Jesus taught that loving others is a key priority (Matthew 22:39). We practice such love by treating people as we desire to be treated (see Matthew 7:12). Loving in this way requires humility. We know this from personal experience, but we also know this from God’s Word. Consider the way in which Scripture links humility and love (see 1 Peter 5:5). The Bible teaches that pride prevents the free flow of Christian charity.
Have you noticed this in your own life? Perhaps you have a family member, neighbor, or co-worker who irritates you. Maybe you know a certain someone who seems unloveable. If you’re honest, it is pride which keeps you from the right response. Consciously or subconsciously, you think people should treat you better, think more highly of you, or do what you want them to do. If you remove unnecessary self-concern from your relationships, you will be free to really love. If you are having a hard time loving, it might be because you aren’t as humble as you should be. Those who love self think of themselves as being better than others. Humble people don’t (see Philippians 2:4).
Help from God.
Humility is a difficult, yet necessary, virtue to obtain. It is difficult because it requires the death of self love. It is necessary, because no one can relate to God without it. The exalted Lord can only be experienced and enjoyed by those who empty themselves of all pride and pretense. There are no exceptions. On more than one occasion, Scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (see Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; and 1 Peter 5:5). When we make little of ourselves, we will experience much of God. This is a universal axiom which cannot be compromised. The eternally infinite God loves to bless those who are lowly and contrite (see Isaiah 66:1-2). He resists puffed up people and draws near to humble people.
Trust in God.
An abiding confidence in Christ characterizes the contrite. Sometimes they may seem too relaxed. They’re not. They just recognize that there is a God who is in control, a God who is master of all. Prideful people are different. They have to overwork and manipulate. They constantly strive with selfish energy to secure the life they desire. Much effort is expended in attempts to control others. They have to use such tactics, because their trust is in self. Humble people live differently, because they trust in the Lord’s sovereign leadership (see Proverbs 3:5-6).