One of the greatest attributes in the kingdom of God is humility. Jesus modeled and taught the importance of humbling ourselves, serving, and not being self-exalting.
Pride is a deadly, self-seeking force that is the root of so many other sins and problems. Pride caused the fall of Lucifer and was instrumental in the fall of man.
Peter outlines the importance of humility and the danger of pride: “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6).
God actually resists the proud; that is not a very good place to be!
Since pride is so detrimental and humility so important, sometimes believers have embraced a false version of humility in an effort to not be–or appear to be–proud. This is a subtle danger, and actually another form of pride. I’ll explain below.
False humility is a mindset that places the emphasis on our weakness, sinfulness, and inability while not acknowledging or stepping into God’s provision to change us and empower us to be who He created us to be. It recognizes that on our own we are weak, but does not recognize that we are called to be strong in the Lord (see Ephesians 6:10). It acknowledges that apart from Jesus we can do nothing, but fails to realize that we are not apart from Jesus! (See John 15:5; Matthew 28:20).
False humility is motivated not so much by a desire to be humble, but by a fear of appearing proud to others. Therefore, it is rooted in the fear of man. If embraced, it keeps the people of God from stepping into their authority, identity, and destiny.
In a culture of false humility, those who walk in authority, clarity, confidence, and gifting, are often perceived as arrogant. Those who acknowledge the calling that God has given them are seen as proud. Those who pray bold and faith-filled prayers are viewed as presumptuous. This is dangerous!
False humility is actually pride in disguise. Pride and false humility are the same in that they both place the emphasis on self. Pride says “look at how great I am” without acknowledging that God is the source of it all. False humility says, “look at how weak and terrible I am” without acknowledging that God has given us a new identity in Him and that He is with us. In either case, the focus remains on self.
Pride is independence from God. It says “I don’t need God.” False humility is a subtle version of independence from God. It recognizes our weakness without recognizing or stepping into God’s strength. This allows a person to remain in a faithless, defeated condition, all in the name of humility.
False humility—a fear of appearing proud—keeps the people of God from: testifying about the things that God is doing; honoring others for their work in the kingdom; giving affirming words to others; receiving compliments; acknowledging the calling that God has placed on their lives. It essentially keeps God’s people from stepping into the authority that we have as sons and daughters of God.
Remember what Peter said: “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). While it is our job to humble ourselves, God says that when we do, He will exalt us. False humility leaves no room for this, because it continually puts the focus on our unworthiness.
Yes, we must see pride rooted out of our lives. We must not be self-seeking or arrogant, as if we are not in need of God’s grace and mercy and as if He is not the source of all of the good in our lives. But we must not fall prey to the subtle form of pride that is false humility. Too many believers hide behind this trait, and are hindered from being all that God has called them to be.
As we seek to rid ourselves of pride, let’s not forget to root out the subtle deception of false humility!