The word humble in the English context has been defined as having a low estimation of one’s self, being modest or coming from a low standing or rank in society. People have misinterpreted humility for the lack of confidence and feel that humility means having to shrink one’s self in order not to be seen by others. I don’t believe that the biblical context of humility means reducing one’s self to a person of no significance. This would contradict Jesus’s teachings about the church in the New Testament. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
The context of the word humility as referenced by Peter gives caution to the proud. “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The word proud also has positive connotations regarding for example, a parent feeling pleasure or satisfaction based on their child’s accomplishments. We can also experience this same satisfaction based on our own accomplishments. The juxtaposition is when pride results in an excessively high opinion of one’s self or one’s sense of importance. This often stems from insecurities developed in early childhood especially in children who felt ignored.
Let us consider where this sort of pride originated from and where it’s roots lie. “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). I think pride without balance or gauge can result in an over inflated sense of self which results in stupidity and arrogance. The devil considered himself so important that he felt that he was equal to God. The result was that he was kicked out of heaven and given a resting place in hell.
It is good to have a positive sense of self. It is also good to have confidence in your God given abilities and know what God has invested in you. The balance is recognising that our gifts are given to us by God to make the world a better place. The acknowledgment of a greater power outside of ourselves, keeps us in submission. Our acknowledgment that whoever and whatever we are, is all to the glory of God.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).