Go ahead! Google "how to develop biblical humility" and review the 11,700,000 possibilities the search engines will produce in .48 seconds. Interestingly most of them propose a step by step process of spiritual disciplines to guide us to a less self-centered approach to life. All well and good. They are essentially correct in proposing functional realities about humans becoming humble in spirit. Surely we can pray, read Scripture, be actively involved in a local community of faith, and seek wise counsel about what it means to be a Christian. More than anything however, genuine biblical humility derives from the moment of personal surrender that convicts us of our sin and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In many texts this yielding of self to God is portrayed as brokenness. Being broken by the truth of the Gospel in our entry port to a humble life.
There are many examples of this brokenness in Scripture. One of the most compelling references about brokenness is the occasion of King David's sin with Bathsheba and the resulting murder of her husband Uriah. The prophet Nathan confronted the King with the grievous nature of his sin. Follow these texts in reviewing how David was brought low in this one circumstance. He is remembered as a "man after God's own heart" (see 1 Samuel 13: 14 and Acts 13:22). His spirit of brokenness after the challenge from Nathan in indicative of that heart---
Why have you despised the word of the Lord to do what is evil in his sight? You have
struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and
have killed him with teh sword of the Ammonites. 2 Samuel 12: 9, ESV
I have sinned against the Lord. 2 Samuel 12: 13, ESV
We also know of the death of David's son following this time of prideful sin, another tragic moment of personal surrender for the king. It is believed that Psalm 51 was written by King David as an expression of his brokenness after these things happened. Note these words from Psalm 51---
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant
mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me
from my sin!
Psalm 51: 1-2, ESV
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let
me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Psalm 51: 7-8, ESV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right[b] spirit within me. Cast me not
away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy
of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51: 10-12, ESV
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt
offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God,
you will not despise.
Psalm 51: 16-17, ESV
And, there it is. The sacrifices he brought to God were a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart. You know, the humility of brokenness.
The word broken is not actually used in the New Testament in terms of personal humility. When used it generally references broken bread, or broken branches, or people broken by horrifying life experiences. But, the concept of brokenness is vivid when addressing the depth of human sin and a resulting surrender to Christ in repentance of that sin.
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.
Acts 3: 19, ESV
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ
was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4, ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And
the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
himself for me.
Galatians 2: 20, ESV
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own
mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5, ESV
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near
to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your
hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be
turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he
will exalt you.
James 4: 7-10, ESV
In these selected verses the idea of brokenness and surrender are depicted as washing, cleansing, submission, and the death of our old manner and life and the newness of Life in Christ. Regeneration and renewal happen in us when we are lowered by the reality of our sin.
What does the world need now? My generational cohort will reply, "love, sweet love". And, of course, that is true. Even more however, our world needs great expressions of the humility of Christ lived out by his followers.
God's Amazing Plan for Personal Strength. Humility. Brokenness.