A riddle was once asked to me and it goes like this:
If you think you have it, you probably don’t.
If you have it, you probably won’t know it.
If you don’t know the answer, let me tell you. The answer is humility.
Perhaps, among the most difficult virtues to achieve in this life is true humility. As humans, we tend to become proud be it in the midst of difficulties or successes. In this world where humility and meekness are equated to weakness, it is not difficult to see why we don’t see a lot of humble people in our society.
Thankfully, the Bible gives us instructions on how to achieve true humility. In the writings of Paul, we could read:
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:3-8).
Let us digest these verses and obtain the 5 keys to true humility.
Key no. 1: Do nothing through selfish ambition
The first key to humility is to stop having selfish ambitions.
Now, having an ambition or goal in life is not bad of itself. However, the problem happens when you have the wrong motivation.
The Apostle Paul mentioned that there are two major ways we can have selfish ambition. It is through strife and vainglory.
In the Old King James, selfish ambition is rendered as strife. It came from the Greek word, eritheia, which means, contention and faction. It basically means that you use strife to advance your own interest.
The Apostle Paul was instructing the Philippian brethren as well as Christians today to do things for the general good and not just for the select few or for yourself.
Some church members and even leaders use strife to fulfill their selfish ambition. They knowingly or unknowingly start debates or discussions simply to show their intellect or superiority above others. They cause division among brethren, forming intimate and small groups who will side with their opinion.
Aside from strife, you could be guilty of having selfish ambition through vainglory.
Vainglory came from the Greek word, kenodoxia. It means empty glorying or self-conceit. The idea is that some people achieve their selfish ambitions by drawing attention to themselves rather than on God.
They try to parade their good works to the point that they become like the Pharisees, who do their good works to be seen by men. On the surface, they may look righteous, but a closer look will reveal a selfish and hypocritical person.
Albert Barnes eloquently puts it:
Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this or would touch on more points of human conduct, it fairly applied.
Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power with which it is done!
Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee?
Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire?
If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain-glory,” how small a portion would be left!
That sounds a bit harsh, but that’s the reality.
Being proud and puffed up are undeniable parts of our human nature. As difficult as it may sound, we must overcome our human nature and that includes our selfish ambition.
We need to remember that we are all part of the same body. We need to act like one and not separately. Causing strife and division for the sole purpose of gaining a position or looking superior shouldn’t be part of the church.
Moreover, if we want to do good works, our motivation should be correct. It should not to impress others and show them how good and righteous you are. Let God reward us of our good works and not other people.
Key no. 2: Let things be done in lowliness of mind
Lowliness of mind simply means humility.
Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, said:
“Humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but it is thinking of yourself less.”
There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Some people mistakenly thought that if they consider themselves as the most pitiable, unfortunate, and useless person, they could become humble.
Obviously, this kind of thinking is false and faulty.
True humility comes from the realization that we are nothing apart from God. If you think about it, we are nothing but dust and dirt from the ground.
Our lives are fleeting. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Each and every one of us came to this world with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing.
In the grand scheme of life, there’s really nothing we can boast about!
Our focus is not on ourselves but should be on God and others. This leads us to the third key to attaining true humility.
Key no. 3: Esteem others more than yourself
Here’s a crucial element of humility that we need to take note of. We must take our focus off ourselves and concentrate on others.
This post originally appeared on BecomingChristians.com and was republished with permission. The article was written by Joshua Infantado.