Tom Burke

January 2005
© 2005 Scriptural Study Groups.  All Rights Reserved.

The book of Ephesians is the apex of the revelation given to the church of God. The believer can’t help but marvel at its first three chapters, in which God fully reveals the significance of Christ’s completed work and all that it means to, for, and in us.

In addition, beginning in chapter four, we are instructed as to how we can and should live in light of this great new revelation.

Ephesians 4:1
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy [in balance with] of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

In other words, God desires our lives to measure up fully to all that He has made us to be spiritually, both as individuals and as a body.

Ephesians 4:2
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love

If one were to ask the average person, or even the average Christian, to make a list of qualities required in order for an individual to live a life of deep and surpassing spirituality, surely that list would include things like courage, initiative, vision, and perhaps even high intelligence. Isn’t it remarkable that God’s list begins with a very different requirement – lowliness, or humility.

Humility is a characteristic that may seem unimportant to some. In some circles, it is even sneered at as a product of restrictive, outdated values, something to be eradicated through education and social reprogramming. Yet God places great value on humility.

Isaiah 57:15
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Isaiah 66:1,2
Thus saith the LORD, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look [regard, pay attention to], even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

What a glorious revelation! Not only is humility acceptable to God, but it is commended by Him. God pays attention to the humble man. God dwells with the humble man.

Even a surface overview of the Word of God will reveal that, as diverse as the great men and women of the Bible seem to be, they all share this quality. They realize that “God is God and I am not.” They tremble at His Word. They may at times demonstrate great confidence, but that confidence is in His ability, not their own. To an individual, they are men and women of humility.

God has much to say about the humble. His Word is equally revealing regarding the proud. There is an abundance of information in the Scriptures as to their ways, their motives, and their end. We can also learn how closely God intends to work with the proud man.

Psalm 138:6
Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly [humble]: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

The book of Philippians primarily addresses the practical application of the truths of Ephesians. Major sections of Philippians are devoted to pointing out examples of those who lived in a manner that pleased God and that enabled Him to work mightily with them. One of those examples is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:5–8
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

You might also want to look at Philippians 3. In it, Paul, by revelation, gives great detail regarding his own life and example of humility. An understanding of this section does much to explain why Paul was able to walk so closely and powerfully with God, why he accomplished so much in his ministry, and how he was able to receive such an abundance of revelation.

The Apostle Paul knew the value of his own achievements apart from Christ. He knew of his own weakness, and of his absolute need for the grace that is in Christ Jesus as his source of strength. He referred to himself, successively, as the least of the apostles, less than the least of all saints, and finally as the chief of sinners. This is what enabled him to be such a faithful servant, preaching not himself, but Christ and Christ alone. It enabled him to be sure of the direction in which he was leading people.

I Thessalonians 1:6
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

Those who followed Paul were following the Lord, because Paul himself was following the Lord. What a testimony to his humility!

Beware of the proud man, the man who is anxious to make a name for himself, the man who feels that the world is too slow in recognizing his great inherent abilities. Such men may shout loudly, move briskly, and lead with decisiveness, but where are they leading their awestruck followers?

Humility should be a preeminent quality evident in those whom we choose as our examples. It should also be a quality which we relentlessly endeavor to instill in our own minds and hearts, by putting on God’s Word and seeing His glorious greatness and our absolute need for what He alone supplies.

It is not our intelligent brains or our strong arms, but our humble hearts that will allow us to experience a closeness with God and an exhibition of His benefits that are constantly out of reach for the proud man.

Ephesians 4:2
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love

Humility is the first of a list of equally remarkable prerequisites which will enable us to fully enjoy our place in God’s household and effectively serve as members of the Body of Christ. By the world’s measure, none of these may seem significant, or even desirable. But if we as God’s children make them a priority, we can look forward to living lives that transcend the world, exhibiting God’s glory to heaven and earth.