Sermon: Grow in Christlikeness (2): Humility

Today Pastor Choi talks about another attribute of Christ: humility.

He points out to three signs of humility: consider others more important than self, look out for the interests of others before one’s own, submit to one another.  He also explains why we need humility: 1) because it is God’s will 2) without humility, no one can see God 3) it is necessary for God’s Kingdom to be realized in our lives, in our families, and in our churches.



Following is a summary of the sermon:

Grow in Christlikeness (2): Humility    Philippians 2:3-4        1 Peter 5:5-6

  • Philippians 2:3-4   New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • 1 Peter 5:5-6   New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
  • Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time



Christ is the true image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4): whoever has seen Him, Jesus says, has seen God.  Whoever has experienced Him has experienced God.   Whoever has known Him personally has known God personally.  We are called to imitate the same Christ in every aspect: thinking patterns, perspectives, even words and actions.  We are called to grow into His image day in day out.  No Christian should ever stop growing.  It is God’s will for us to partake in Christ’s character to its fullness.  He expects us to grow in Christ.  In fact, God already sees us fully grown into Christ’s image (like any great coach visioning the championship of his players).

Last Sunday, we talked about one of Christ’s attributes: love.  Christ commands us to love one another as He has loved us; both unconditionally and sacrificially.  By this love, people will know that we are Christ’s disciples.

Today, we are going to think about the second attribute of Christ: humility.  E. g.  A pastor was voted by his congregation most humble pastor in America.  They recognized him during service one Sunday and presented him a medal.  On the following Sunday, in appreciation of what the congregation had done, the pastor wore the medal around his neck.  As soon as the congregation saw that, they were shocked and took the medal away from him (Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes) saying that such an act of boasting automatically disqualified him for the title!

It is my sincere prayer and hope that we all learn about Christ’s humility this morning and start living it out in our lives.


What is humility? 

Humility is one of the Christian virtues along with others such as compassion, kindness, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:12); mercy, love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).   Humility is the work of the Holy Spirit: no matter how hard we may try, our own efforts will not make us humble.  God must help us on that.  We become humble when we seek God.  We become humble when we obey God’s truth and His will.   The end result is peace and joy in Christ.

What is humility?  Let me begin with a dictionary definition: the quality of not thinking that you are better than other people; the quality of being humble (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries).  It is pretty close to what I am thinking.  Actually, I believe it borrowed the idea from the Bible, particularly from today’s text Philippians 2:3; with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.

The opposite of humility, of course, is arrogance.  The definition of arrogance is: the behaviour (sic) of a person when they feel that they are more important than other people, so that they are rude to them or do not consider them (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries).

Arrogance is one of the vices listed in the Bible such as fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing (Galatians 5:20), selfishness, slander, gossip, and disorder (2 Corinthians 12:20).  Arrogance, unlike humility, is the work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-20).  It is self-seeking.  It puts self above others.  It promotes own interests before those of others.  It says ‘No’ to mutual submission.   It doesn’t obey God’s truth.  It cannot, because it doesn’t pursue God’s will.  The end result is wrath and fury from God (Romans 2:8).

Signs of humility

  1. Consider others more important than yourself  (Philippians 2:3)
  2. Look out for others’ interests before your own (Philippians 2:4)
  3. Submit to one another (1 Peter 5:5-6)

What humility is not:  I would call it ‘wrongly directed humility.’  Self-imposed abasement is not humility.   True humility never makes you believe or act like you are nobody or ‘zero.’  It never makes you a door mat for everybody, either.  Think of Jesus who was humble.  His humility was not self-abasement, because He at times sounded outrageously arrogant.  E. g. People wanted to stone Him to death when He made Himself equal to God and claimed that whoever has seen Him has seen God the Father (John 14:9).  Furthermore, He wasn’t a wimp, when it comes down to confronting evils (e.g. driving out money changers from the Temple) and hypocrisy (e.g. Woe to Pharisees and Sadducees).  He was rather like a roaring lion and a champion of justice.  Humility is not self-imposed abasement.  Rather, it is strength under control guided by God’s will and truth.

Times we live in: humility is hard to come by nowadays.  The American society doesn’t seem to consider humility a virtue.  It rather promotes arrogance and pride.  The Bible prophesied that in the end times arrogance becomes prevalent (2 Timothy 3:2).   We shouldn’t be surprised.  Actually, we see more and more people who are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness.  We also see more gossips, slanderers, God-haters, people who are insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless (Romans 1:29-31).  In such time as this, God calls you and me to conduct our lives with godliness and humility.

Who’s our role model?  Jesus is.  He calls us to learn from Him about humility (Matthew 11:29), from Him directly: Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart.  Let’s learn from Christ who, being equal to God, yet did not regard equally with God (Philippians 2:6).   Let’s learn from Christ who emptied Himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness (Philippians 2:7).  Let’s learn from Christ who humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).   Let us learn from Him by having the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).  He is our role model.

Why humility?  Three reasons God’s Word provides why we need humility.

  1. Because it is God’s will for us.  Arrogance is not.  God commands us to humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord, then He will exalt us (James 4:10).    Humility is particularly significant in prayer.  Every prayer requires humility.  What is prayer?  It is the act of having an audience with God.  We cannot imagine going into God’s presence with arrogance or with the attitude of entitlement.  Rather, we would show our utmost humility to the Almighty God before we even think of presenting our petitions.
  2. Without humility, we cannot see God.  To enter the Kingdom of God, we must be humble like a child (Luke 14:11).  The rich, the mighty, and the kings have a great disadvantage on this one, because they often trust not in God but in their own strength, power, and money.  Furthermore, when people put them on a pedestal, it doesn’t help them at all.  It is very hard for them to be humble.  Perhaps, that’s why Jesus says, it is very difficult for the rich to enter God’s Kingdom; lack of humility.   Remember: God is opposed to the arrogant.  Arrogance belongs to the flesh and the flesh itself refuses to obey God’s truth.
  3.  Humility brings forth the realization of God’s kingdom in our personal lives, in our families, and in our church.  To realize God’s kingdom among us, we need mutual submission, and we cannot submit to one another without humility.  How can you submit yourself to an individual, when you think yourself better than the other person?   Here’s what I have discovered through the Bible study what humility is all about.  Humility is the quality of willing submission to God and to one another (Philippians 2:8, James 4:10).  The meaning of mutual submission is this like this: think of the human body where all members and organs work together in ultimate submission to the head (E.g. you want to go to church on Sunday morning; your hands get your body ready—washed, combed, dressed up / your feet take you to the car or walk/ the rest of body goes with them!  All under the decision made by your brain).  Can you imagine the body with mutiny against each other?  It is called cancer.  Likewise, under the headship of Christ, we the members of Christ’s body submit to each other.  The key word is submission: willing submission to God and to others.  When we submit to one another, it brings forth unity, order, and harmony in our family and the church.  Arrogance, on the other hand, brings forth division, disorder, and contention in our family and church.


Live a life worthy of God’s calling that would make God proud of you.  Live a life with all humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2).  Let us clothe ourselves with Christ’s humility and start living it out today.