by Dr. Robert R. Seyda



This product of the Spirit in our reborn spirit allows believers to deal with something more robust and more significant than themselves as well as accepting that which is weaker and less meaningful with equal tenderness. As we see it displayed in Jesus’s life, it defines true humility. That refers to the ability to be the servant of all without discrimination, and without desire for attention. Too often, what we see in the world is a caricature of humbleness, while transformed-love produces the real character of humbleness.

As such, humbleness is a love that allows for differences without becoming hurt or upset. It gives us the ability to be consistent in a tender and stabilizing way. Humbleness takes more than mere resolve; it requires the power of the Holy Spirit to be in full control of our hearts, minds, and emotions. It creates the proper attitude for Love to be represented by images only applicable to the Anointed; He is both a Lion and a Lamb.

Augustine of Hippo shows how all of this fruit of the reborn spirit neutralizes the failures of the flesh. He says humbleness resists envy. [1] In other words, when the fruit of the reborn spirit develops into the virtue of humbleness, it keeps a person’s lust for materialism from emerging, wanting things that other people have even if you don’t need it. And later, Haimo of Auxerre seems to follow this same thinking by saying that modesty displays the mild and humble reborn spirit that is not easily angered when injured.[2] So, not only does a person with this fruit resist wanting what others have, but also refuses to get angry when what they do have is taken. And then Bruno the Carthusian sees this fruit also as a form of modesty, and describes it as “restraint in words and deeds.” [3]

So, to put it in a form we all might easily recognize, believers with this fruit in full blossom do not get easily riled up and spout off when everything goes wrong in their lives while it is going right in the lives of others. When forced to respond by circumstances to a verbal or physical assault, they do so with a humble spirit. Is this not an apparent characteristic of God who responded to our sinful actions and attitudes against Him and His Word by loving us into repentance so that He could joyfully offer us forgiveness?

 Adam Clarke sees humbleness as being lenient with the spiritually weak who continuously makes mistakes, patiently dealing one’s injuries without feeling a desire for revenge, an even balance of all tempers and passions, the entire opposite to anger.[4] And preacher Alexander Maclaren writes that humbleness points to the submissiveness of spirit, which does not lift itself against oppositions but bends like a reed or palm tree during a storm.[5] And theologian Gundry regards it as the opposite of the hostilities we find in verse twenty, such as hating people, causing trouble, being jealous, angry or selfish, causing people to argue and divide into separate groups.[6]

Reformer Martin Luther offers his take on this word and describes it as an attitude. Such as person is humble and is not quick to get angry. Luther uses the German Sanftmut, usually translated into English as gentleness. Luther refers to a person who is not quick to get upset as humble. Many things occur in daily life to provoke a person’s anger, but the Christian gets over their rage by being gentle.” [7]

Methodist John Wesley defines humbleness as “keeping a delicate balance between affections and passions.” [8] We might illustrate it this way: When a person with this virtue is happy, they are smiling, and when they are unhappy, they are still smiling. It doesn’t mean they are in denial, but that they are calm in dealing with issues by searching for an answer instead of griping about the circumstances. It reminds us of Jesus being able to sleep in a boat while in the middle of a raging storm, and when awakened, He gently told the winds to stop and the waves to be still.

British Theologian John Gill gives his description of humbleness. For him, it is a form of humility and meekness, patterned after Jesus the Anointed. The Holy Spirit transcribes this virtue from the heart of our Lord into the heart of a regenerate person. It becomes effective by being non-egotistical in one’s attitude and in the way they live for God, acknowledging every favor, being thankful for every blessing, and depending on His grace and in behaving with modesty and humility, among others.[9]

Joshua Wilson, Director of Public Relations for God’s Bible School and College, writes that we can define praotes more accurately as a “submissive and teachable attitude towards God.” As such, it displays itself in genuine strength, humbleness, and consideration toward others. The Apostle Paul implored the believers in Corinth to act more like Jesus, who was humble and gentle when dealing with people.[10] Wilson finishes by telling us how to interact with others in humbleness. We must be in a right relationship with God.[11] We can’t do it on our own.[12] And it’s accomplished by living with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.[13] [14]

Harold Martin, past president of Florida Evangelistic Association Ministries, and former pilot and executive vice-president of Missionary Flights International, addresses genuine humbleness by saying, “Meekness is not weakness.” He points back to a speech made by former U.S. President George W. Bush, who said in his acceptance speech after being nominated by the Republican Party for president, that he wanted America to be a “kinder and gentler nation.” To do this says Martin, we must develop humbleness as a trait to be pursued by a Christian.[15] Furthermore, humbleness is a characteristic to be followed when restoring those who have fallen.[16] And finally, humbleness is a trait to be used when sharing the Gospel with those who are lost.[17] That is why Christians should put on the attribute of humbleness that will point unbelievers to our Gentle Shepherd, whose “yoke is easy” and “burden is light.” [18]

And Caslyn Rice tells us that when dealing with difficult situations, rather than lashing out, developing an attitude of humbleness enables us to respond appropriately.[19] God cares for us. He is mighty; He calls us to humble ourselves before Him. Not because He is a controlling God that wants you to bow down to Him because we are nothing, but rather, because He wants to exalt us and care for us. As we humble ourselves, that is when we truly worship Him. We show trust in Him to help us deal with what is going on in our lives and believe He is the provider instead of ourselves.

When Paul was writing to the congregation at Philippi, he reminded them about Timothy, whom he hoped to send to them as soon as he sees how he’s getting along. Paul says I’m trusting the Lord that shortly I will be able to come also. However, I’ve decided to send Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, because he wanted so much to see you again once he found out that you heard he was ill. In fact, he was very sick, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but me also, lest I should have grief on top of sorrow.

Now here’s where Epaphroditus’ humbleness comes in. Paul writes that the church should “receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” [20] Epaphroditus nearly died for the sake of the Gospel. Perhaps it was from exhaustion or exposure to the elements in helping Paul and delivering his letters to the congregation at Philippi, or maybe Epaphroditus was in prison with Paul for a time. Still, regardless of what it was, Epaphroditus poured his heart, soul, and mind into physically helping Paul and the congregation so much that he nearly died from it. He risked his life to be Paul’s servant and right-hand man. Unless someone is humble, they won’t dare go this far and give this much! He esteemed Paul’s life better than his own. Therefore, he saw his life as expendable for the Gospel’s sake. That is a very profound sign of humbleness. It is something that should challenge us all.

[1] Augustine of Hippo: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Haimo of Auxerre: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[3] Bruno the Carthusian: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Clarke, Adam: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[5] Mclaren, Alexander: Expositions of Holy Scripture, Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[6] Gundry, Robert H.: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[7] Luther, Martin: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[8] Wesley, John, Galatians: Explanatory Notes & Commentary, op. cit., loc. cit.

[9] Gill, John: Exposition of the Whole Bible, op. cit., loc. cit.

[10] 2 Corinthians 10:1

[11] Colossians 3:12

[12] Galatians 5:22-23

[13] Ibid. 5:16, 25

[14] Wilson, Joshua: Revivalist Magazine, November 2019, pp. 8-9

[15] See 1 Timothy 6:11; Colossians 3:12; 2 Peter 3:18

[16] See Galatians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Titus 3:3

[17] 1 Peter 3:15-16

[18] Martin, Harold: Revivalist Magazine, November 2019, pp. 5-7

[19] Rice, Caslyn: op. cit.

[20] Philippians 2:23-30

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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