How to Truly be Humble

April 11, 2024 — Krystal Craven
The title text "How to truly be humble" over a picture of the back of a person with their head deeply bowed.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)

Jesus is on a role here at this dinner party, wouldn’t you agree? He has just asked some heart challenging questions on selfish judgements when He healed a man who had dropsy and now He’s challenging their pride as He teaches them how they should act instead of how they were currently acting.

He Noticed How They Chose

The guests at this dinner party, which we saw from last week’s section was made up of at least Pharisees and lawyers, had chosen places of honor for themselves. In ancient Jewish culture, the places nearest the head of the table where the host sat were considered the places of honor. This is similar in current American culture, at least among politicians or corporate heads. If there’s an event, say a campaign fundraiser for example, the people of importance are the ones seated with the politician at the head table.

However, when you think of those types of situations in modern culture, people often seek to gain power or influence with or through said politician. So in those instances, they seek a place of honor for themselves for selfish reasons and it’s because of their pride that they feel entitled to it.

We all as human beings are capable of such pride and selfishness and in fact, it is more natural to us because of our sin nature. But we must fight our sinful flesh desires and strengthen our spirits in which we put on humility just as Jesus our Savior did.

When You are Invited

As Jesus tells this parable, He gives instructions to not honor yourself in your seat choice, but to place yourself in the lowest seat and let the host honor you. This may seem like just a rational idea or even a dummies guide to humility, but Paul also touched on this when he told the churches in Philippi to, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) as well as to the church in Rome to “not to think of [yourself] more highly than [you] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3)

One could simply follow what Jesus said on the outside and look humble, but in reality this is a matter that starts in the heart.

Exalted and Humbled

James gave clear insight to this when he said, “But [God] gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:6-8,10)

The outside manifestation of this looks like exaltation of the humble and humbling of the self-exalted; however, the inside reality is that the humble who are being exalted have submitted themselves to God, resisted the devil, drawn near to God, cleansed their hands, and purified their hearts, humbling themselves before the Lord in which they receive grace from God.

A common Proverb, in which the context aligns with what Jesus and James said is, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Whatever we do starts in the heart. Whatever we have our hearts set on we put thought into. Whatever we put thought into we give time and effort to act on. The reality is, our actions all start from what is in our hearts. If our hearts are prideful, we’ll act in pride. If our hearts are humble, we’ll act in humility.

Purifying the Heart

Let me ask you a question and it may cause your inner defenses to come up, but remember, it’s just you and the Lord who know the answer, so you can answer honestly and let the Lord reveal and deal whatever may need to be…

Do you tend to put yourself first and choose the best for yourself or do you prefer others over yourself?

I’m sure we’d all love to quickly answer that we never put ourselves first and we prefer others and yield the best to others all the time, right? But even at our best, we don’t actually do that every. single. time. But how often we do or don’t can be a good heart check indicator, much like a check engine light on the car dashboard.

We should desire to be humble because our Lord and Savior Jesus is humble, and He is our example to follow as we walk with Him. Yet, how cool is it that we get to know the bad consequences of being prideful and the good consequences of being humble up front? Now with that knowledge comes an even further need to not seek to be humble for consequence’s sake, otherwise that’s simply pride in a humble costume. Again, it starts in the heart and the outer actions are the fruit.

How can we then effectively be truly humble? Well, if humility comes from a pure heart, then we need to first address having a pure heart. In the simplest of terms, Psalm 119 gives us a very clear answer of which I’ll leave you with this week:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16)

The title text "How to truly be humble" over a picture of the back of a person with their head deeply bowed.