A Step to Staying Humble
How often are you humbled by God?
For most people in the Western Church, I would venture to say the answer to the question above is “not all that often.” How often are you actually, legitimately humbled by God; by His size and greatness compared to your finiteness and insignificance in comparison?
Pride runs deeper than we know, and if we have pride here and we aren’t humbled by God, then we will run the risk of a few important things:
- A small view of sin: if God isn’t very big or very holy, then sin against him doesn’t seem to be a huge deal.
- A small view of God’s power: if God isn’t very strong or sovereign, then we will worry about the future because He might not be strong enough to bring about His good purposes and plans.
- A small view of prayer: we won’t pray because we think we are self-sufficient, God isn’t strong enough to help, or He doesn’t care enough to help.
- A small view of worship: Both corporate and individual worship will be stunted and small. We will act like God isn’t worthy of serious, devoted praise and worship (through singing, prayer, His word, preaching, giving, etc.). We won’t pick up the bible on our own time. Sunday mornings will become about our preferences and enjoyment more than learning who God is and responding as He richly deserves.
Why aren’t we humbled and put in our place more often? There are two primary reasons:
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.“
— 2 Peter 3:18
We know too much about Him
For people who say, “I knew it, studying theology is bad because it makes you proud,” keep reading. You’re next.
First, for those of us who enjoy studying theology, we must be careful that our pursuit never becomes about the knowledge for knowledge’s sake. If I know a million things about God but fail to stand before him and kneel in humility then I am missing the point of learning about God. Let what you know about the Sovereign smash the idol of yourself and humble you to be amazed that a Holy God loves broken people. No matter how much God blesses you to know and learn, you will still be broken and in need of grace. Always.
We know too little about him
You may not be the kind of person that studies theology. You may not even be the person that picks up the Bible often. And maybe you wonder why other people seem to have deeper connections with God than you do.
Maybe that’s because you have to know something in order to have it affect you. Don’t expect to be in awe of God’s power if you don’t know how strong it is. Don’t expect to be in awe of His holiness or sovereignty if you don’t know what any of those words mean.
In short, pick up the Bible. Read it. Ask God to show you His greatness as you read. Pick up a book from a good author that has something to teach you about God. The truth is that you have just as much danger in being proud as all those “proud theology students” do, you just come at it from a different angle. Look in the recommended resources at the end of the post for some good books that helped me get on the road to appreciating learning about God more in ways that changed my life.
Knowledge needs to guard us from pride. And knowledge must never be a route to intellectual superiority, thinking we are smarter than everyone else, especially God. But you can’t be humbled by something of which you have no knowledge. So passionately pursue knowledge of God and grow in intimacy with him, but never neglect the prayer to grow equally in humility.
“Christian may have entered the Valley of Humiliation overconfident and puffed up with false pride, but he departs with humble reliance on the Word of God and prayerful gratitude to the Lord of the Highway who has come to his aid and saved him from the Destroyer. He goes forward with his sword drawn. He has learned his lesson and now relies consciously on God’s Word for protection.”
—John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress