Peter tells his readers to ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you’. There is a difference between being humbled and being humble. We are humbled by another person: for example, one tennis player can be humbled by another tennis player who is a better player than him, yet the defeated player may still be a proud person and attempt to exalt his own abilities. Many people have been humbled by God in providence and remained without humility in their lives. How can we become humble?
Humility will lead us to be like our Master. Sanctification is another word for Christlikeness, which means that he is the role model for humility. Therefore we will study his character as revealed in the Gospels. We will note how he bore insults, how he was prepared to be a nobody, and how he was content to leave his future exaltation in his Father’s hands. Jesus made himself of no reputation and the Father gave him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:5-11). His humility was all-embracing and his exaltation is all-embracing.
Humility will cause us to use our memories. We will not forget where we were when Jesus found us. When we see pride in a Christian, we can be sure that he has a bad memory or else he has forgotten what God knows about him. A humble person cannot forget where his sin brought him.
Humility will cause us to test our motives. It is a lowly person who examines himself. The proud Christian assumes that nothing is wrong, and therefore sees no need for checking up on himself. But as long as we have sin within us, we will need to check our motives.
Humility will lead us to admire progressing Christians. We will love to see signs of God’s grace at work in the lives of our fellow Christians. Indeed we should be looking for this when we meet together.
Humility will take note of the mighty hand of God. At the moment, it is the mighty hand of providence, arranging the circumstances of our lives. If they are difficult, we know that only his hand can protect us and only his hand can replace that kind of providence with another. Yet they will also note that the same mighty hand will exalt them eventually to great heights and there is no power that can prevent it from taking place. The realisation of God’s sovereign power enables humility.