Proverbs about Pride and Humility

If you think you excel as an expert at humility, you are probably wrong! Here are some proverbs on this subject.

  • “Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.” (6:3)
  • “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.” (8:13)
  • “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (11:2)
  • “The Lord will tear down the house of the proud, But He will establish the boundary of the widow.” (15:25)
  • “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (15:33)
  • “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” (16:5)
  • “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (16:18-19)
  • “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor.” (18:12)
  • “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin.” (21:4)
  • “‘Proud,’ ‘Haughty,’ ‘Scoffer,’ are his names, Who acts with insolent pride.” (21:24)
  • “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches, honor and life.” (22:4)
  • “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (29:3)
  • “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself Or if you have plotted evilput your hand on your mouth.” (30:32)
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Do Not Think of Yourself More Highly than You Ought

Scripture is full of praise for the humble and warnings against pride. A few examples include:

  • “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:6)
  • “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” (Proverbs 3:34)
  • “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23)
  • “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

Many of us, when we consider humility, tend to think of godly sorrow accompanying repentance when we have realized our error in regards to a grave or embarrassing sin. But can we be humble without necessarily having any “big” or “serious” sins to repent of?

Perhaps some of us feel as though we would be more than willing to humble ourselves, but we do not see anything in our lives that would require us to repent in dust and ashes.

Scripture makes no mention of which I am aware of any “serious” sin the life if Isaiah when he came into God’s throne room as described in Isaiah chapter 6. But that certainly did not stop him from being humbled in God’s presence:

“The foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
Then I said,
‘Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’”

Coming into God’s throne room, which is open to us through the avenue of prayer, has a way of opening our eyes to just how puny and imperfect we are in comparison to the God that we serve. After all, the life that we live here on earth is a life that Christ “emptied himself” according to Philippians 2, in order to share in. God is above us, and we only have His grace because of His willingness to condescend to our low level.

With this in mind, consider the instruction of scripture in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)

Many quote Isaiah 64:6 when they need encouragement in humility: “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” The truth is that none of us measure up to Christ. All have sinned. If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All are deserving of death. As such, even the best that we can do is woefully inadequate.

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Humble Confession – by Austin Gonzales

Following God’s instructions concerning one aspect of life will help us follow His instructions in other aspects, as well, so that we can live better lives overall.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about this in regards to humility and confession.

(James 4:10) Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

(1 Peter 5:5b) …all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

(James 5:16) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

(1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In my (limited) experience, if I am going to truly apologize for an offense, or if I want to try and obey the command to confess my sins to a brother in Christ, it definitely requires swallowing my pride. In turn, it helps me develop humility – just a little bit at a time – when I sincerely apologize to someone, or confess a sin that I have been hiding.

When we apologize; we are admitting to God, to our friend, and to ourselves that what we did was wrong – no matter how valid our excuses may seem to our prideful selves. Similarly, when confessing sin, we are admitting that it was indeed a sin. So we have no excuse – since “with the temptation [God] will provide the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13) – and we realize the need to resist any desire to do it again. Therefore it helps us, when we confess wrongs, to humble ourselves by understanding that some things are wrong no matter our reason – the ends do not always justify the means. And in so doing, it can also help us with obedience to God.

We have a need to confess not just our sins, but also the struggles we go through. How are our brethren supposed to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2-3) or “look out for [not only their] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4), if we do not let them know what we are going through? Except, of course for the deep, painful wounds that “they can’t do much to help with,” right? No! Rather, we especially need to confess those kinds of inward struggles!

Even if there is nothing that a fellow member can actively do to help; they can listen. Simply the action of speaking your thoughts and emotions out loud does much to help us understand and process such issues. Also spiritually, the deep, hidden wounds are just the opportunity Satan can best use to tempt us with – especially the ones that nobody else knows you are thinking about. This is also where humility comes in. We do not want to appear ignorant, weak, or un-Christ- like, etc.; so we don’t want to let people know that we hurt. But humility tells us that we are ignorant, weak, and un-Christ- like. Everyone is, except for the LORD Himself. That is why humility tells us that we must confess our need and appeal for His help – as well as the help of His church.

Confession and humility can also give us tools to be proactive and take preventative measures to avoid or resist temptation. Accountability, for one thing (Galatians 6:2-3). As I have just mentioned, humbling ourselves to admit struggles, or sins that we struggle with, means that others can help us through them. However, this requires communication and complete honesty – both of which, humility can help with; and both of which can help to build humility. When we “tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” then our brethren can most effectively help us out. It may have to do with keeping an eye out for situations that they know may tempt us. Or maybe they can get us in contact with someone who has been through the same struggles. In addition to such things, communication and honesty build stronger relationships between us.

Advice I hear about marriage or relationships nearly always includes being honest
and/or constantly improving communication. It is how we become close to our family in Christ – and it helps us come closer to Christ Himself.

Humility is also required when we are hearing confessions or apologies from someone else. When someone comes to us in such a way, it is easy to be tempted to judge them, gossip about them, or not to forgive them – maybe in not so many words. But if we keep in mind that we have committed offenses of our own, and that God has been so gracious to forgive us, it helps us to forgive them and to honor their confidentiality – to pay it forward. Colossians 3:12-13 tells us, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Additionally, when hearing confessions; humility can tell us that we do not always have the answers. When someone opens up to us, we may really want to help with any advice we can offer. But humility can teach us to think before we speak. Not always – but sometimes – the best thing we can do is to listen.

To sum up, God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,” if we humble ourselves and confess our sins.

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Humility”

What is humility?
Hebrew:
anawah – meekness, denoting the spirit produced under circumstances of suffering, oppression, and affliction. Sometimes translated “poor,” “humble,” or “lowly”.

Greek:
tapeinophrosune – the state of gratitude where one understands the reception of gifts are by the grace of God—and as such—undeserved by human accomplishment.

Consider that God is referred to as having “anawah” in (2 Samuel 22:36) “And Thou givest to me the shield of Thy salvation, And Thy lowliness maketh me great. [YLT]”

And Jesus is described as humbling Himself in places like (Philippians 2): He “emptied Himself” and “humbled Himself” by becoming a man and dying on the cross.

Likewise in (Matthew 11:29-30) “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In the case of God condescending to our level, or of us realizing our spiritual poverty, there is a downward movement.

(Romans 12:3) reinforces this: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Likewise (Romans 12:16) “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

(Philippians 2:13) likewise illustrates using position: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

How does humility differ from self-loathing?

Remember that God is said in some sense to be “humble” and Jesus is said to have “humbled” Himself. God and Jesus surely do not think little of themselves or loathe themselves. Rather, they are willing to do what is “beneath them” for the sake of those they love.

It has been said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

(1 Corinthians 4”:3-4) “to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” Paul did not base his commendableness on what others thought of him, or even what he though of himself. He just left that judgment to God and did his best.

In (Luke 18:13) the tax collector will not even lift his eyes to heaven, but he is yet bold enough to ask God for mercy and to walk away justified. That his, he does not refuse God’s forgiveness thinking he is too worthless to receive it.

David said “I am a worm and not a man.” Is that a healthy state of mind?

It is sometimes appropriate to be bitterly downcast by the realization of sin.

(James 4:9-10)“Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

However, it would seem that there is such a thing as an unhealthy level of grief over sin. (2 Corinthians 2) “For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.”

A prolonging of excessive feelings of guilt goes beyond the proper duration goes beyond humility and turns into a self-loathing.

(Psalm 30:5) “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

 How would I know if I was or was not humble?

There is such a thing as a false humility
(Colossians 2:18-23) warns about men who “delight in self-abasement,” but whoa re really “inflated without cause by his fleshly mind…” they have “the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

In (Luke 18:12) the Pharisee brags about fasting and giving… acts that would perhaps be humble if he did not do them so that he could brag.

“Boasting” is done by those who are not humble.

(Proverbs 27:2) “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.”

(1 Corinthians 1:26-29) “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”

(Jeremiah 9:23-24) “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.”

(Matthew 6:2) “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Even the term “arrogant” comes from the verb “arrogate,” to make an unjustified claim, to attribute a certain success to one’s own merits.

(Luke 14:8-11) do not assume that you are going to receive the highest honor, as though you deserved it. Do not take the highest seat for yourself at the banquet.

 How can someone be proud of their accomplishments without sacrificing their humility?

God is not against the bestowing of honors:

(Romans 13:7) “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
(1 Timothy 5:17) “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

 Remember though, (James 1:17) every good thing comes from God, (Acts 17:28) only in Him do we even have our being. (1 Corinthians 15:10) Even our hard work is attributable to God.

 Does the Bible say that Jesus was the humblest man? If so, what does that mean?

(Philippians 2) does hold Him up as an example of humility for us to follow.

(James 4:10) says humble yourself and God will life you up. Jesus was willing to be made so low, and was then rewarded. He was given the name above every name (Philippians 2:9).

(John 13:15) “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” Jesus condescended to the point of being our servant. None of us can condescend so far because none of us start so high.
(Mark 9:35) the one who wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.

 What does it mean that “God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble?” How does that work?

This phrase is in (James 4). The context indicates that prideful individuals are full of plagued by conflicts and murders. The context indicates that those who humbles themselves and weep over there sins find grace from God. The phrase may simply indicate that those who are humble are the only ones able to receive what God offers.

(Proverbs 16:18) famously says pride goes before a fall. Could this simply be a natural consequence of the way the world is structured?

(Proverbs 11:12) “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

(Proverbs 29:23) “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”

(1 Peter 5:6) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

(Luke 5:4-5) “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’”

If Peter did not accept fishing advice from the carpenter’s son, but insisted he knew better as a professional fisherman, he would not have been blessed in this way.

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

Remember that the Hebrew word for humble can also be translated as poor.

Humility can be a recognition of our personal spiritual poverty, a recognition that the source outside of us (James 1:17)

Accept God’s charity: (Ephesians 2:8) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”

 How can I work on being humble?

Humility is commanded in scripture.
(Ephesians 4:2) (Philippians 2:3) (Colossians 3:12) (1 Peter 3:8) (1 Peter 5:6) (James 3:13) (James 4:10)

Make a point of being humble during personal prayer.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) The story of the two men praying in (Luke 18), the instructions to humble ourselves in (James 4) all deal with confession and with prayer.

Since (Romans 13:7) says to give honor where it is due, we can be humble by acknowledging the help we have received from others and from God in each of our own accomplishments. Practice acknowledging the contributions of others.