The best definition of humility I have heard is “a right perspective of who I am and who God is.” Who I am is a person created in the image of God (Imago Dei if you want to impress your friends). Humility is not self-deprecating (e.g. “I’m just awful”), as self-deprecation is often a reverse form of pride to get people to offer you praise. Rather, the doctrine of humanity as image-bearers means that we have inherent dignity, we have dominion on Earth as God’s representatives, and we possess some of his shared attributes (attributes like a knowledge and capacity for love, creativity, justice, etc.).
As with all things on Earth, sin has corrupted the divine image within us. One of my seminary professors often said that the Imago Dei is “defaced but not erased.” Because of sin we do not look exactly like God, we do not represent Him well, and we certainly do not inherently possess a proper perspective of who we are in light of who He is.
Psalm 131 is an awesome example of humility. David does not have pride in his heart, nor are his eyes haughty. Haughty eyes are described in the Proverb that states, “There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.” (Proverbs30:13). David did not join pursuits in which he sought to elevate himself above God, or in which he would elevate himself out of a need for God. Instead, he states that he has “composed and quieted [his] soul.” And like that of a child on his mother’s chest, so also does David rest in the Lord.
Pride is insidious and antithetical to the humility that the Lord loves as we see in Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”
In what ways have you let pride creep into your life? Ask God to show you through the Holy Spirit in what ways you have sought to elevate yourself above others or elevate yourself above a dependence on God. Conversely, ask God to show you the areas of improper perspective. Those areas where you do not possess the confidence of the Lord and you fail to step out in faith for fear of embarrassment or shame (rooted in pride).
It is not wrong to want to do great things for the Lord (John 14:12–14). It is only wrong when your heart’s motivation is an elevation of self, rather than the glorification of the Lord. So, where do you need to confess pride, where do you need to act greatly as an image-bearer, and where does the “hope in the Lord” need to spread in your life?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate