The complex discipline of humility is examined by reviewing common attitudes, the battle experienced and everyday habits that are connected to this quality.
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We are studying the various spiritual disciplines that help us become more godly.

The definition of discipline:

  1. Something no one likes but all admire.
  2. What is done in obscurity for the sake of excellence.

For example, Olympic 100 meter runners practice and discipline themselves for 4 years for an event that lasts 10 seconds. On the spiritual level, you cannot achieve godliness without developing discipline. As Paul says,

discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
- I Timothy 4:7

Godliness, however, is not like music or sport, etc., because there is no public performance in mind - we pursue spiritual disciplines for only one reason - to achieve godliness.

In this session we will examine the 7th spiritual discipline in our study - humility. Now, most people see humility as a virtue (a quality of character) rather than a discipline. What is the difference? A virtue is something you possess whereas a discipline is something you practice. You practice humility, you do not possess it. As you practice it, it becomes part of your character. The greatest danger is thinking you possess or can use humility because when you do this, it becomes pride.

Common attitudes regarding humility

1. It is not popular or admired in our culture.

We want to be first or famous, and humility (true humility) gets in the way of this.

2. We appreciate humility in others but rarely want it for ourselves

We like humble people around us because for the most part they do not threaten our position. We would rather work on humility after we get to the top. For example, we see that even Jesus' disciples were like this as they debated who among their number was the greatest (Mark 9:33-35 ). Humility is more about what we seek than who we become.

3. Humility is not the result of low self-esteem

People who do not like themselves are not automatically humble. On the contrary, people who practice the discipline of humility are usually secure and aware of their talents and gifts. An honest assessment of your true value helps one to practice the disciplines necessary to cultivate true humility (we will discuss these later).

4. We can measure our success in practicing humility as a discipline

The things that we do to practice humility can be seen and measured. When, however, we stop practicing and simply consider ourselves humble, we easily fall into pride and the errors that a proud person makes.

The battle for a humble heart

I think we all like the idea of having a humble heart but pause when considering the struggle this may require.

43But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
- Mark 10:43-45

Disciples practice humility as a natural part of Christian living.

3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
- Philippians 2:3-4

What Christian humility looks like in the church.

  1. Remove selfish motivation (not just my wants).
  2. Become less conceited (actively think of others).
  3. Consider others more important than self (others' needs and priorities before my own).
  4. Serve others (our focus is on serving others not just self).

Question: Why can I do this? What is my motivation?

  • Jesus' person (perfect)
  • Jesus' life (service)
  • Jesus' sacrifice (complete)
  • Jesus' motivation (His love for me!)

My focus on Jesus produces gratitude, and my gratitude motivates my discipline of humility.

Everyday practice tips in the discipline of humility

Here are three things to do in order to practice the discipline of humility:

1. Sit-on the desire to promote self

God gives to each his/her talents, He can also create opportunities to use them. Trust God to promote you when the time is right. Rely on Him when your calling comes.

2. Stand-up for others

Look for opportunities to serve those who seem less deserving. It is easy to dismiss the poor, those who are weak but God has called on us to serve these very ones. Standing up to meet the needs of others truly develops a humble character in ourselves.

3. Bow low before God

Give God all your worries, offer Him all your thanks for blessings, rely on Him completely for every part of your life. This practice of lowering yourself will train your spirit in the discipline of humility. The discipline of humility is always an act of faith and always difficult, however, God rewards a humble heart with peace of mind and spirit in Christ.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe the type of pride (or its display) that you dislike the most.
  2. What do you believe is the greatest obstacle in your efforts to develop a humble heart?
  3. Describe a time or situation when you were able to truly exhibit a humble attitude.
  4. Who is your hero of humility (aside from Jesus)? Why?
  5. Which of the "tips" is the most difficult for you to practice? Why? Which one do you find easy? Why?