True Humility Vs. False Humility, Part 1

When you do something good, and someone congratulates you or tells you what a wonderful thing you did, is your response always, “Oh, it was all God.” This is something my sister and I noticed recently and talked about. We never really thought twice about it until we watched the movie, “The Apostle Paul.”

There was a scene where Paul is talking to Luke (we believe) and tells him what a wonderful healer he was. I don’t remember exactly if he said “Thank you,” or just accepted the compliment, but I do remember that he never said, “Oh it was all God.” Now, that’s NOT to say that we don’t give God the glory because ALL good things come through Him, BUT we were noticing that we not only diminish ourselves, BUT the power of God IN US when we don’t also accept our part, as well. I know this sounds a bit crazy… Let’s take our reference verse:

Colossians 3:12 – “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

I don’t think many of us truly know the biblical definition of what humility really is.

Often times, humility is recognized negatively. We have a misconception of what humility really means. We think it means to be passive, to think low of ourselves, or talk down of ourselves. I’ve often even thought humility gave off a sense of insecurity and passivity, but as we studied, it was just the opposite!

Here’s how the dictionary defines humility:

Humility– a modest or low view of ones importance.

  • That is actually contrary to true humility.

Now, let’s look at how the Bible defines humility:

Humility – the personal quality of being free from arrogance and pride and having an accurate estimate of one’s worth.

Right away, we see that according to the world, humility is viewed as a low view of ones worth, whereas according to the Bible, humility is actually an accurate estimate of ones worth! What a contrast! We have two kinds of people running around displaying opposing views of what humility is and basically with that lack of understanding, a lot of false humility masked as pride.

True humility in fact is NOT insecure or unsure about one’s identity and self-worth! True humility describes one who IS confident in their worth in Jesus Christ! I love the quote from C.S. Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Wow!

It really is just recognizing our dependency on God and not ourselves. When we focus on ourselves it becomes pride and that’s the opposite of humility.

False humility

We came across a podcast from Kris Vallotton who spoke on this subject and it so struck a cord in my spirit and we began digging into more on this subject. False humility masks pride; it’s subtle. That’s why it is so easy to think we may be walking in humility, but really aren’t. It’s always good to check ourselves and ask God our motives and if our actions are lined up with His. They may seem humble because we may say things like, “I am a nobody, I have nothing to offer,” but it’s a self-depreciation. We think by demeaning ourselves, we are being humble, but that’s actually false humility.

When we demean ourselves, we are actually demeaning God. It’s no different when we talk badly about how we look. As women, we tend to have issues with appearance and when we think or say things negatively about our appearance, our behavior – we are actually talking badly about Gods creation. Think about it –we are diminishing who we are, who God created us to be. We are actually operating in pride – the focus is on US! We tend to over spiritualize scriptures and misinterpret them, or have been taught incorrectly what humility really means.

Conversely, false humility can also disguise itself in a conceited confidence, one that exalts ourselves higher than others, and remember the Biblical definition of true humility is the personal quality of being free from arrogance and pride and having an accurate estimate of one’s worth.

We encourage you to read this story in  Luke 18:9-14… This story depicts both true and false humility…

Self-righteousness is dangerous and leads to pride, which is the opposite of humility. The Pharisees probably thought they were operating in Godly confidence, but they were in fact belittling others (the tax collectors) and exalting themselves higher. Though the tax collectors obviously had a bad rep around town, God looks at the heart, and this particular tax collector was recognized by God for his true humility. The Pharisees approached God with a false humility, exalting their righteousness and good deeds above God working in them, whereas the Tax Collector approached God in a totally different manner.  He was humble and exalted God and others before himself. He showed true humility.

Jesus is our greatest example! He humbled himself on a cross and played down his life, so we could be lifted up. What to the world was mocked and seemed weak and powerless, was the greatest display of strength and power! As Alec Motyer says “He (Jesus) recognized no limit to the extent to which his obedience in self-humbling must go.”

True humility takes a strength and confidence to know who you are! You cannot display true humility without the power and confidence to express it!


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