Strategies for Cultivating Humility and Killing Pride

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Pride is one of those things that every Christian knows is wrong but struggles with anyway.  It’s not something concrete that can just be stopped.  It’s pervasive and operates on the heart level where it affects everything we do and think.  Pride is something we despise in others, yet too often see in ourselves.  So, how do we get rid of it?   This week I read about one pastor who googled articles on pride and found one written by a Hindu called, “How to Kill Pride.”  The interesting thing about that article is that after talking about the dangers of pride, the author ended by saying, “I don’t really know how to fight pride.”  Thankfully, Christianity doesn’t leave us I such a place.

Last Sunday, as I preached on the pride of the disciples, I gave three simple ways believers can begin killing the root of pride in their lives. The way to kill pride is to cultivate humility.  But how do you do that?  There is much that could be said here.  Entire books have been written on pride and humility.*  While these are helpful, we don’t need them to get started.  Here are three simple, biblical strategies for cultivating humility and killing pride.

1.  Remember God’s glory

In Numbers 23, we’re told that God is a not a man nor the son of a man (Num 23:19). The first place we go to begin humbling ourselves is God himself.  Read through the Bible looking at the Being and work of God.  Begin seeking to look at him in the fullness of his glory and all of the pride you feel about yourself will soon be vaporized. Who can be prideful for very long when they consider the might, majesty, power, and privilege of the Almighty?   Start by meditating on Job chapters 38-41 and Romans 11:33-36.

2.  Remember God’s gaze

This great and glorious God who is far superior to us in every way, nevertheless, finds his gaze drawn to those who are humble.  In Isaiah 66, God says, “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.  But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa 66:2).  We see the same theme throughout the Bible.  In Psalm 138, we see that God regards the humble (138:6).  In Psalm 9, God never ignores the cries of the humble (Ps 9:12). In Isaiah 57, God says he makes his presence known among the humble (Isa 57:15).  So, let this be an incentive in pursuing humility—remember that God’s gaze is upon the humble.

3.  Remember God’s Son

If you have to come up with a passage in the Bible that defines humility, Philippians 2 must surely be at the top of the list. After encouraging the Philippians believers to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:34), Paul grounds his command in the example of Christ himself. He says “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5-8).  Jesus not only sets the bar as a perfect example of humility, he is also the One who gives us the grace we need to cultivate humility in ourselves.  It is through the Gospel of Christ—the saving work of Christ—that we are not only saved from sin, but also sanctified from sin.  In him we find forgiveness for our pride and power for living a humble life.

C. H. Spurgeon said that “Humility is to feel that we have no power of ourselves, but that it all comes from God. Humility is to lean on our beloved, to believe that he has trodden the winepress alone, to lie on his bosom and slumber sweetly there, to exalt him, and think less than nothing of ourselves. It is in fact, to annihilate self, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as all in all.”  May we be a humble people.

*Want more?  Check out these helpful works: Humility: The Forgotten Virtue by Wayne Mack, Humility: True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney, and The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy J. Keller.

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