I have talked to many single moms (several of whom have suffered through abusive relationships) who all tell me the same thing-
“I just don’t know who I am anymore. I feel worthless.”
Trauma often causes us to devalue ourselves. But what’s really dangerous is establishing a pattern of cutting ourselves down and then calling it humility. Somehow, some of us (myself included) got the idea that thinking less of ourselves is righteous (because, after all, we don’t want to get all full of ourselves, right?).
Sadly, many of us cross the line into a kind self-bullying known as false humility. It’s not biblical and worse yet, it’s a lie of the enemy to paralyze you and keep you from living the abundant life God intended for you.
(No judgement here, mama- like I said, I’ve been there too.)
Ephesians 2:10 literally says in Christ, you are God’s masterpiece. Treating a masterpiece of God as useless trash isn’t humility, and it isn’t righteous. But what then is real humility, and how does it help us recover our sense of worth?
What Biblical Humility Is: The Hierarchy of Humility
The best way to think of humility is as a hierarchy, an order to where we place ourselves in relation to God and other people. Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility, the fear of the LORD, results in wealth, honor, and life.” (CSB). Humility is easily understood in this verse foremost as fear of the Lord. Fear as it’s used here denotes “respect, reverence, and piety.” It means recognizing the ways of God as higher than our ways, and submitting ourselves to Him and His work in adoration and awe.
So God first. Check.
Furthermore, Philippians 2:3 (BLB) tells us, “Do nothing according to self-interest or according to vain conceit, but in humility be esteeming one another surpassing themselves.” The warning here is not to be all hoity-toity in the way we consider others, nor to use relationships with others for personal gain. When our esteem for others surpasses the esteem we hold for ourselves, we should end up treating people as we would like to be treated (or better).
Others second. Check.
SIDE NOTE: This is where the humility thing can go all haywire for some of us. It’s possible to put others’ needs beyond our own to the point we are actually HARMING them, as well as ourselves. Attending to someone in such a way that they depend on you instead of God actually creates an idol for that person. This kind of behavior is called enabling, and it’s really common in relationships plagued with abuse and/or addiction. The good news is if you are walking in humility with God, He will show you the difference between serving someone through a tough time, and a regular pattern of harmful enabling.
Humility Is NOT Self- Neglect
Sometimes we think totally neglecting our own needs and interests is the humble thing to do. But Philippians 2:4 (ESV) says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Read that closely: NOT ONLY. Notice that it doesn’t say “don’t look AT ALL" to your own interests, but rather not only your own interests. You have interests, many of them God given, and that’s okay! True humility gives us room to balance our efforts between our own interests AND those of others.
But how do we strike that balance?
Real Humility is Empowering
Romans 12:3 (NLT) “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” By faith, we can evaluate ourselves correctly; and while this verse warns us against over-inflating ourselves, we also should take care not to go the other way with it and cut ourselves down (because that’s not exactly accurate either).
This is super important because REAL humility should actually lead you to knowing what is special about you, to the extent that you are energized and empowered to go out and do something with it.
Romans 12:4-5 says that “just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” We don’t all have the same gifts- how boring would that be? But just because someone seems more talented, does that mean your talents are completely worthless?
(I know, it seems to make more sense in your head.)
An ear can’t do what a foot can do, but all the parts of a body are still valuable, just as all members of the Body of Christ are valuable. Real humility means knowing you have worth, and that you have a purpose.
Furthermore, verse 6a says “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” For doing certain things well! Humility gives us the ability to know exactly what our gifts are, so we can open ourselves up to the incredible things God can do through us.
Real Humility Gives Life
Hopefully now you recognize the difference between real humility and false humility. False humility makes us think we are useless and weak. It makes us forget who we are, instead of celebrating our unique gifts and blessings.
But real humility “results in wealth, honor, and life.” Wealth. Honor. LIFE! These are some serious promises, girl.
Have you been subjected to the lies of false humility? What is God showing you about walking in who He made you to be?