What if humility isn't what you think it is?

Allison Moore

When someone mentions humility, I immediately picture a doormat and bristle. I have a hard time connecting being humble with something positive. I know Jesus was humble, but I’ve struggled to see humility as more than pathetically allowing others to walk all over me.

Could it be that we misunderstand humility? British writer C.S. Lewis once wrote, “humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” 

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. - C.S. Lewis

Our world puts a lot of emphasis on “taking care of yourself” and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Yet, the Bible tells us to set aside our rights for the sake of others and to consider others before ourselves (Philippians 2). 

In the Bible, humility leads to blessing and reward (Proverbs 22:4, Luke 14:11). It’s a mark of wisdom and spiritual maturity (Proverbs 11:2, Colossians 3:12). 

Humility is not making ourselves doormats. It’s the quiet strength that comes from knowing your heavenly Father loves you and is looking out for you. That knowledge frees us to focus less on ourselves and more on others. 

Three Ways to Start Thinking of Yourself Less

1. Make a habit of thanking God. 

Deuteronomy 26:11 says to “rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household.”

It’s hard to remain prideful when we’re celebrating all that God does for us. If we wake up in the morning and write down 10 things we are grateful for, it reminds us how blessed we are and trains our hearts and minds to be thankful. Practicing gratitude turns our focus from ourselves and toward the Lord, who has done everything for us. 

2. Look for ways to serve someone else. 

Serving others is the most efficient and effective way to practice humility. Matthew 19:30 says, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” 

Jesus modeled this unconventional way of leading others when He knelt down and washed the disciples' feet at the last supper. It’s hard not to be humble when we’re serving others. 

3. Remember who we are — sinners who needed a Savior. 

Compared to the worst people in history, it’s easy to think highly of ourselves. But when we compare ourselves to God’s standard — perfection — we are quickly put in our place. 

We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible doesn’t grade us on the severity of our sin. All sin separates us from God, and the price for any sin is death. 

We’re all equal at the foot of the cross. It doesn’t take more of Jesus’ blood to cover some sins than others. When this truth sinks deep in our souls, we cannot help but be humbled. Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. 

There will never be a day when our salvation doesn’t cause us to look to Jesus and say, “Thank you.” Pausing to remember all that Jesus saved us from and all that He saved us for is one of the fastest ways to shift our thoughts from ourselves and onto Him. 

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