What Is Humility?

“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”—Matthew 18:4 (NKJV)

hu·mil·i·ty, noun

a modest or low view of one’s importance

Every time I think I’ve kicked pride out of my life for good, it somehow rears its ugly head again. Anybody else have this problem? Whether it’s your appearance, a behavior, or a character trait you’re a little too proud of, this type of superficial pride leads us to the deeper places within us where we’ve felt the same sense of self-importance.

In Matthew 18, we see a similar sense of self-importance possessed by the disciples. You see, they had a question, and their motive was pretty clear. I imagine the twelve of them banding together to ask Jesus this question as one unit, almost ashamed to go alone. They asked Him, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1 NKJV). Jesus answered them saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NKJV).


Children? The disciples were probably thinking, “No, no, no, Jesus is mistaken. He couldn’t have meant we are to become like children!” But Jesus continued, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4 NKJV). I can just imagine the bewildered expressions on their faces.  

Let’s take a second to think about a child. They’re flighty, full of life, loaded with questions, and have little-to-no fear of asking questions. Although the disciples may have feared Jesus’ response, they still asked, mirroring the honesty of a child. They didn’t cower in fear, hoping their efforts would one day grant them their “well deserved” crowns—and we shouldn’t either!

The Lord loves our honest, inquisitive hearts and minds. Why? Because asking questions means slapping pride in the face. Self-importance makes us believe that we don’t need answers from anyone. When we choose to seek the Lord and His answers, we take a step down from the throne we’ve built for ourselves. Instead, we’re asking to be corrected, changed, and assisted. When He steps back onto the throne that’s rightfully His, He gives us the chance to start new, with an inspired mindset that takes the pressure of performing perfectly off our shoulders. Sounds kind of like being a child, if you ask me!

It’s when I lay down my life for His that I find true humility. When I honestly admit my sense of self-importance and need for correction, He washes me clean and directs me towards truth, righteousness, and humility.

DIG: Read Matthew 18:1-5, Matthew 19:14, and Matthew 11:29.

DISCOVER: Do some introspection this week. What are some things in your life that you keep creating your own solutions to? How are you letting your pride control your ability to seek correction?

DISPLAY: Choose righteousness and humility by choosing to let the Lord into your thoughts and questions.

About the Author

Cortney Gurr