James urges his readers to ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.’ Humbling ourselves inevitably involves not thinking a lot of ourselves. It also includes an awareness that we have no personal resources from which we can draw for support, that we are completely dependent on the Lord. And it is an affirmation that we recognise the authority of Jesus, that we are his slaves, although at the same time it will be glad service that we will give.
I suspect that it has always been hard to be humble. Yet I would suggest that it is even harder in the self-focussed society in which we live. Everything around us urges us to promote ourselves, to insist on our own status, to find our own path of self-fulfilment, and not to be too concerned with what others need. Of course, the word that covers all that is selfishness.
When did you last meet a truly humble person? I don’t meet a weakling unable to express what he/she thinks and desires, unable to face the challenges of the spiritual life. I mean someone who is totally devoted to serving Jesus Christ without expecting any complements for doing it, who lives for the exaltation of Jesus in their own life and in the lives of others. Such people are marked by contentedness in Jesus as well as devotion to Jesus.
Humility has its benefits as well. Thomas Brooks wrote this about humility: ‘Humility is both a grace and a vessel. There are none that see so much need of grace as humble souls; there are none that prize grace like humble souls; there are none that improve grace like humble souls; therefore, God singles out the humble soul to fill him to the brim with grace, while the proud are sent empty away.’ His words remind us that it is the humble who continue to receive grace from God.
Humbleness of mind is the best evidence of Christlikeness. Of course, we never become fully humble in this life. Sometimes it is said that a humble person thinks little of himself. I read a comment that disagreed with that statement because the person said that a humble person does not think of himself at all. And is that not Christlikeness?