"Seek the Lord, all in the land who live humbly by His laws, seek righteousness, seek a humble heart; it may be that you will find shelter in the day of the Lord's anger."  (Zeph 2:3 NEB).

Humility is having a lowly opinion of oneself, free from self-will and submissive to the authority of God. It is the opposite of pride and arrogance. But how do we become truly humble? Christ Jesus the Son of God provided the answer when he said: "Bend your necks to my yoke, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-hearted; and your souls will find relief." (Matt 11:29 NEB). Only by the submission of our will to Christ's God-given authority (his "yoke") can we be his disciples and learn true humility.

During his earthly ministry, Christ gave a parable of two men and their prayers to God. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector: "The Pharisee stood and began to pray these things to himself, 'O God, I thank you I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give the tenth of all things I acquire.' But the tax collector standing at a distance was not willing even to raise his eyes heavenward, but kept beating his breast, saying, 'O God, be gracious to me a sinner.' I tell you, This man went down to his home proved more righteous than that man; because everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted."  (Luke 18:11  14).  This means that we must willingly become lowly of mind.

Jesus knew that the sect of the Pharisees were representative of a class of people who use mock humility to exalt themselves, to deceive others by example, and the means by which they "shut up the Kingdom of the heavens before men." (Matt 23:13). The apostle Paul admonished: "Let no man deprive you of the prize who takes delight  in a mock humility", for "he is not holding fast to the head" (The Christ).  (Col 2:18,19)  (See 1 Cor 11:3). Those who practice mock humility do so to mask arrogance and deceit, deluding themselves that in their own estimation they are righteous before God. This was clearly evident in the words of the Pharisee who prayed "to himself" and falsely believed he was "not as the rest of men... unrighteous... even as this tax collector."  (Luke 18:11).

Mock humility can be identified by a lack of spiritual 'fruitage' evident in that person's attitude, speech or conduct. Christ said, "A good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit... Really then, by their fruits you will  recognize those men." (Matt 7:18,20). And this is true of many apostates, for "the works they do, they do to be viewed by menů They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the marketplaces ("places  of  assembly") and to be called Rabbi ("My great one; My excellent one") by men."  (Matt 23:5  7 Large Print NWT). But The Christ said: "The greatest among you must be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  (Matt 23:11,12 NEB).

Humility must never be confused with shyness or self-consciousness. Those who are excessively self conscious are often disinclined to speak freely, and are given to silence and concealment. They are in fear of openly committing themselves in speech or conduct, and so are often difficult to approach. But being in subjection to this fear, and cosseting themselves, not only conceals their true identity, but indicates they are not in union with the openly expressive love of God. As it is written: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint (on the love of God). Indeed, he that is under fear (in subjection to it) has not been made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18).  For "if our hearts do not condemn us, we have freeness of speech toward God". (1 John 3:21). Consequently, those who are painfully self conscious and shy do not have enough love for God or His servants.

We must never imitate the Godless examples of those who practice mock humility or who conceal themselves in shyness. It is through softly spoken words and sanctimonious mannerisms that sectarian leaders delude the unwary into the belief that this is true humility! Mock humility is a characteristic commonly found among those desiring prominence among the people. Such ones are "possessed of an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and mock humility". (Col 2:23). As for shyness, it is a characteristic of those refusing to show love to others, but still expecting it from them. But "he that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love."  (1 John 4:8).

Those practicing mock humility, and those cosseting themselves with shyness, share the same underlying motive: To conceal themselves from the humiliation of having their true disposition exposed. But Christ warned: "There is nothing hidden except for the purpose of being exposed; nothing has become carefully concealed but for the purpose of coming into the open." (Mark 4:22). And since "there is not a creation that is not manifest to His sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of Him with whom we have an accounting", we must put away "that superfluous thing, badness, and accept with mildness the implanting of the word which is able to save your souls."  (James 1:21.  Heb 4:13).

As disciples of Christ we must humbly submit to the corrective discipline from Jehovah. For "whom Jehovah loves He disciplines; in fact, He scourges every one whom He receives as a son." (Heb 12:6).  We must not "belittle the discipline from Jehovah", for he that is "making his neck hard" (stubbornly arrogant) risks being suddenly "broken, and that without healing." (Heb 12:5.  Prov 29:1). Only those who are truly humble receive the undeserved kindness of God and His teaching through The Christ. "He guides the humble man in doing right, He teaches the humble His ways."  (Psalms 25:9 NEB)  (James 4:6).

While on earth, Christ set the pattern of true humility when he washed the feet of his disciples. He said: "Therefore, if I, although Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another. For I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also." (John 13:14,15). In humble subjection to the Will of God there is "no room for rivalry" (striving to outdo one another) or "personal vanity" (having a flattering opinion of oneself), "but you must humbly reckon others better than yourselves." You must "look to each other's interest and not merely to your own".  (Phil 2:3 NEB).

Seek to fulfil the needs of one another in the faith. Let each of us show through fine works "a meekness that belongs to wisdom" (of God). (James 3:13). "Indeed, all of you should wrap yourselves in the garment of humility towards each other, because God sets His face against the arrogant but favours the humble. Humble yourselves then under God's mighty hand, and He will lift you up in due time."  (1 Peter 5:5,6 NEB).

C. B. Thomas.
& 10/11/11.