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)

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.

Why Do the Right Thing?

It is no secret that God asks us to give up our sins, some of which may be very dear to our hearts. He asks us to change our lives in ways that can be difficult or painful. He asks us to give up our pride. He asks us to step out in faith and do things that get us out of our comfort zone. He asks for a lot.

So why should we do what He asks? Why do the right thing? Here are some possible answers:

So that life will be better for us here and now. After all, God’s commands are designed to protect us from harm. There can be no question that following where He leads is beneficial. In Mark 19:30, Jesus says of anyone who gives something up for Him, “he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age.”

So that we can go to heaven. In Matthew 6:20, Jesus encourages us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Romans 2:6-7 tells us that God “WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” Some day we want to hear Him say “well done.”

So that we won’t go to hell. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says plainly, “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” For those who really believe all that the Bible says about hell (and the Bible says a LOT about it) this is a real motivation to do the right thing.

There are many other possible reasons to do the right thing. To be a good example to those younger than us. To avoid hurting family and friends. To keep a clear conscience. To maintain personal credibility.

But there is one primary reason to do the right thing that we must not forget.

We do the right thing because, as Christians, we don’t have a choice. God owns us. We gave up our rights when we died with Him through baptism (Romans 6). We signed up to be slaves of righteousness (also Romans 6). It is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Our lives are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

We live in a society that esteems personal freedom over duty. Others may give us advice, but they are not to control us. No one can tell us what to do, we get to weigh the pros and cons and decide for ourselves. But the relationship between the Christian and his God is not this way.

God can and does tell us what to do. If you want to follow Him, you only have one choice: submit. We don’t get to pull out a list of pros and cons every time we want to sin, assess the situation, and decide whether discipleship seems personally advantageous. God either owns you or you do not belong to Him at all.

“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Do Not Be Arrogant

When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Rome, he had to spend a good deal of effort helping the Jews to overcome the pride and arrogance that could blind them to the true beauty of Christ. It was an unfortunate irony that their rich heritage of religious practices and the cherishing of scriptures might actually work against their ability to obey the gospel.

For one thing, many of the Jews thought that simply being Jewish guaranteed them God’s favor. This led Paul to ask two specific questions designed to help them realize the important distinction between a) conditions favorable to spiritual growth and b) inherent spiritual superiority.

The first question, found in Romans 3:1 is this: “What advantage has the Jew?” and the answer given is “Great in every respect.”

The second question, in verse 9, is this: “What then? Are we better than they?” and the answer given is an emphatic “not at all.”

Notice the specific differences in the wordings of these two questions, for within their subtleties lie the unraveling of the Jew’s false sense of superiority.

The first question, “what advantage has the Jew?” asks simply what special and unique blessings have been enjoyed by the Jewish people. And indeed, there were a great many blessings that the Jews had received. As Paul states in verse 2, “they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” That is to say, that the typical Jewish person grows up hearing and memorizing God’s prophecies concerning His Son and His cosmic scheme of redemption.

The second question, “Are we better than they?” asks not simply what special blessings the Jews have received, but whether or not they are inherently more valuable to God or more worthy of His grace.

The implication is clear, Jews have been favored by God in the sense that He has blessed them with conditions favorable to spiritual growth, but He has most certainly not favored them in the sense of making them ethically, morally, or spiritually superior simply for being a Jew.

Now apply this to your own situation. Perhaps God has blessed you with conditions favorable to receptivity. We a individuals have been blessed with some or all of the following:
• Living in a country with religious freedom.
• Living in a country where Christianity is common.
• Having access to a Bible.
• Being born into a Christian family.
• Being reached out to and taught the gospel by a Christian.
• Attending a church that studies the Bible thoroughly.
• Having a heritage in the Restoration Movement.

We must not make the same mistakes that many of the Jews were making.

We must not, for instance, assume that simply because our church has its roots and heritage in the Restoration Movement, that God will accept us regardless of our specific individual and congregational actions and decisions. Simply having “Church of Christ” on a sign guarantees us nothing. Actually being Biblical in practice is essential.

We must also realize that we are not Biblical Christians because we are just so much wiser or more spiritual than the billions of other people on this earth, but in large part because God has blessed us with conditions that are favorable to our spiritual growth. Had we been born in another country, or another family, or another century, we might not have received the blessings that have brought us to the understanding of the truth that we have today. This realization should result in humility, not arrogance.