Arrogant Christians should not exist. Of course, they do. But that’s a sign of God’s grace, rather than evidence that it’s acceptable. Pride and arrogance have always been vices for people of faith to overcome. Humility is usually held out as the solution.
The Gospel and Humility
A posture of humility and meekness is necessary for the Christian life. Afterall, how can you confess your sin and place all your confidence in Jesus Christ (rather than yourself) if you have never been humbled? Imagine a proud man (or woman) walking into God’s presence. That’s just laughable and silly.
Instead, Christians are called to, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). This biblical command is anchored in the gospel, which is clearly emphasized in the very next verses. Humility is not a mere add-on to the gospel. Christians are called to be humble because Jesus emptied himself of glory, was born as a human baby, was betrayed by his friends (whom he had not wronged), and died a painful death (which he did not deserve)… all for us. Therefore, Christians are called to walk in humility.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, …Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.Galatians 5:16-24
Christians are people who are being sanctified. That means they are called away from arrogance, brashness, and pride… and towards humility, meekness, and compassion.
The Strength of Humility
Some of the most humble people I’ve ever met are also the most courageous. They have stood firm in the face of opposition, because their humility required them to defend the rights of the oppressed. Humility stands in the truth, and it will not waver or give in to an onslaught of pressure to conform.
Men and women who walk with humility add joy and happiness to those around them. They are not negative-minded people who always have something to complain about, nor are they self-deprecating blowhards searching for compliments. Their genuine care for others leads them to listen far more than they speak, and their words are life-giving – even when they say something that’s hard to receive.
You see – humility is resolute and firm in the face of oppression and deception. The humble man will oppose liars and stand in the way of the evil doer. He is no pushover.
The Cost of Humility
Christians often feel like humility means you need to allow others to have their way. But if their way is built on half-truths and shady motivations then the humble response is to (graciously and without accusation) press for the truth and full-disclosure. Humility knows how to say, “No, absolutely not!”
Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit will lead to disappointment and heartache. Not because the Fruit of the Spirit are dissatisfying and will let you down, but because they will sometimes lead you into conflicts that will break your heart and make your life more difficult. It’s easier to give people their way. It’s more convenient to look around and say, “Who am I to judge – live and let live!”
Walking in the Spirit requires conviction, resolve, and sacrifice. These are not virtues we look within to find. They grow and ripen in our lives as we are rooted in the gospel… and as we become more like Jesus Christ.
When you pay your own cost for humility, consider the price Jesus paid… and remember his reward.