Day 19

Teachings on Humility

from the Luke reading plan


Luke 14:1-35, Proverbs 25:6-7, Romans 12:16

BY Guest Writer

I am uncomfortable writing about pride and humility, precisely because I have too much of one and not nearly enough of the other. I dare say I’m not alone, either. I did a little bit of cultural research when I started writing this, because I wanted to see how other people talk about humility.

First, I found a series of business articles in prominent journals about how humility is the secret to good leadership—including an article literally titled, “17 Reasons Humility Will Help You Get Ahead.” Later, I found an article about the power dynamics of choosing your seat in a business meeting, and research about the psychology behind your choice.

What Jesus says in Luke 14:7–14 is exactly the opposite: “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place” (v.10). When He tells this parable, Jesus isn’t teaching a large crowd. He is eating a Sabbath meal in the house of Pharisees, the group that would be largely responsible for later placing Him on trial.

In this chapter, Jesus confronts the Pharisees three times. First, He heals a man on the Sabbath, an issue over which the Pharisees had previously confronted Him. Second, having observed the Pharisees carefully choosing their seats at the Sabbath meal, He tells a parable about being humble and always choosing the worst seat. Third, He tells another parable about a wedding feast where none of the invited guests come, so the host extends the invitation to the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind.

Throughout Luke, we see Jesus inaugurating the kingdom of God and proclaiming its values. He challenges the Pharisees, and He challenges our hearts. The parables He tells are for His immediate audience, but they are also for us, showing us the way life should work in His kingdom. And in the kingdom of God, humility isn’t a tactic to get ahead. It’s not a carefully-calculated decision about where to sit in a meeting, or at a party.

In his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller writes:

Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.

I’ll pray through those words today, asking for self-forgetfulness and gospel-humility, asking for the Spirit to convict me when I put people and things before Jesus, and praying, inspired by the words of Paul in Romans, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (v.16).

Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "Teachings on Humility"

  1. Tanya Metz says:

    This resonated so well with my soul!
    Thank you!

  2. Jennifer McElhannon says:

    Humility is definitely something I can work on. Jesus tells us directly we need to humble ourselves before the kingdom. We should not think of ourselves as better than anyone. We are all on equal playing grounds.

    The quote from the book the author of this article pulled from was profound as well. Reminding us about what’s important. We need to take a step back sometimes and look at the bigger picture. I saw someone quote CS Lewis in the comments section and I couldn’t agree more with it. Sometimes I struggle with thinking less of myself—like I’m not good enough. My self-esteem issues have stemmed from a childhood where my mother constantly told me I could stand to lose a few more pounds when I was honestly starving myself or puking up what little I did eat. It wasn’t until years later that my mom realized the impact she made in my self image that she partially understood.

    I just pray each day that God will guide me in the direction I have renewed to Him.

  3. Natalia Phillips says:

    God wants all of our focus to be on Him and His kingdom, which seems like a lot to ask, but in hindsight is it? Think about about it, when dating we set expectations that our partners should focus on the building of the relationship neglecting all others. This is comparable to our relationship and walk with God. He expects us to neglect all others, follow him wholeheartedly, trusting Him every step of the way to change us from the inside out.
    Let us continue to focus on our relationship with God knowing that He is leading us to an eternal life.

  4. Chelsea Wells says:

    I am feeling convicted about spending too much time on social media after reading this devotion. It is the ultimate place where we are self-focused and view everything in reference to ourselves. It is all about self-promotion. I find myself getting offended and even depressed about other people’s posts and take things personally when I really shouldn’t. I could really use prayer for this.

  5. Becky Kuiper says:

    Tim Keller’s book Blessed Self-Forgetfulness changed my life several years ago. It is very short, and an easy read, and I highly recommend it! He reflects the heart of God in that writing, and it has given me so much peace. I have it electronically on my iPad, and read through it from time to time because I NEED the reminder of the peace provided by self forgetfulness. Blessings to you today, sisters.

  6. Emily says:

    I’ve been struggling with forgetting who I am and have been denying how wonderful God says I am. I don’t want to live a wonderful life with God in the shadows of my own soul. This devotion has given me hope in myself. Even though death might be a painful truth, I want to die knowing the healing truth.

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