Human, the LORD has told you what goodness is. This is what he wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God.Micah 6:8 ERV
Humble obedience is something God wants from us, but the words “humbly obey” do not bring up happy feelings in me.
Stubbornly resisting God’s guidance has been an unfortunate track record I’ve developed over the years. I’ve had my life charted out (literally) since I was twelve years old, and it’s easy for me to think my way is best.
And yet, when I’ve tried to “go my own way,” I’ve struggled to find some of the things I deeply desire – vision, a purpose for my life, forgiveness, and lasting peace. I’ve learned that God wants me to humbly obey him because when I live his way and walk intimately with him, he brings the very things I desire into my life.
I think God has a sense of humor and is innovative in his effort to convince me that humility is my best option. His latest effort to persuade me is having me write this article alongside a long-time friend and partner-in-crime in resisting God.
Join us as we share our struggle to choose to humble ourselves enough to trust and obey God. In this article, we’ll be discussing three ways humility helps your life.
Obedience to God leads you to the best plan for your life
The Bible teaches us that God has a plan for each one of us. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to trust and follow God’s plan because I grew up always having a plan of my own.
My mom even started calling me “Ms. 21” when I was about 11 because I was like a little adult. When people would come to my house, I would steal their cigarettes. Then when they realized it was me, I’d boldly or foolishly scold them for smoking.
By age 12, I had a triangle chart that planned out my life from some theory they taught us in school, and I was on track. But when I studied the Bible at 19, I decided to throw out my triangle chart which I had developed in my fear and desire to control my life in order to relieve the constant anxiety I felt.
I learned that I didn’t have to live my stressed out, controlling plan. God had a better, more, peaceful, faithful one in mind. So I decided to embrace humility and let God lead my life.
I did that, and it was the best decision I have ever made! However, as life moves on and fears or discouragement arise over time, I can forget God’s great plan and start making my own again.
A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!John 10:10 TPT
I can be afraid that God won’t continue to take care of me, that he doesn’t have my best interest in mind, or that he does hear me but doesn’t care about me or my desires.
It’s in these moments of fear and discouragement that I have to choose humility by believing what God says in John 10:10 instead of my own emotions and opinions. I have to choose to believe that Jesus came to give us everything in abundance – a full and satisfying life.
I have to remember that God still does have the best plan for my life, or else I’ll start making my own plans and thinking I know better than God. And when I do that, I end up missing out on the great plan God really does have for my life.
Also in these moments of fear and discouragement, it helps me to humble myself with friends by telling them I need help in my faith. Friends help me process my emotions by sharing scriptures and talking to bring me back to believing in God’s plan again.
- Do you believe God has a great plan for your life?
- What fears and discouragements in your life have made you resist embracing his plan?
- What spiritual friends can you team up with to start working through your fears and discouragements so you can believe God’s plan again?
Obedience to God brings healing, closeness, and love
Humility can sound horrifying to me. I grew up poor, living in ‘humble’ circumstances, and I thought the only goal in life was getting out of those humble circumstances.
I also thought my humble circumstances made me a humble person naturally, so I didn’t need to or want to work on being humble.
The words ‘obedience’ or ‘obey’ also don’t produce happy feelings within me. With older siblings, I would often have to comply with their requests to in turn get what I wanted, and so obedience became a task or a means to an end.
Understanding what God wants of me in regards to humility and obedience has been challenging. I like to stay on the surface and believe that if I make someone think I agree with what they are saying, it will buy me some time or at least get the person off my back. Then I can appear obedient or humble even.
Little did I know that learning true humility from the heart has nothing to do with my circumstances, and it also makes obeying God appealing.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you resist humility in your life?
- Do you resist obeying God?
- What can we do?
So then, from now on be obedient to the LORD and stop being stubborn.Deuteronomy 10:16 (GNT)
This scripture says we have a choice to obey God or be stubborn. We can simply stop being stubborn. How do we make that simple choice?
Simple isn’t necessarily easy. God is not looking for obedience in terms of conforming and complying with rules.
When God asks for obedience, what is he really saying? Does God just want us to comply or form the best religious habits? That doesn’t sound appealing and gives me little faith to want to be or stay a Christian.
Through studying the Bible, I learned that obedience to God should flow from loving and trusting him and respecting that his way is best for us. That it’s not just a duty, and that took humility.
Understanding obedience in this way was far more appealing to me than just falling in line. Seeking God and seeing my need for God meant I had to humble myself and admit that I needed and wanted the relationship.
Humility brings healing
Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14 – NCV
Humility starts with praying and seeking God. I have to stop any sin in my life that keeps me from God and relationships. When we humble ourselves, God promises to hear us. He promises forgiveness and healing.
Think of our “land” today. We are very much in need of healing from disease, racism, social injustice, and more. Healing is appealing to everyone right now and humbly asking God for help is a way to start that healing.
How do I change my mind about humility?
If we are going to humbly obey God, we must first change our mindset about humility. We need to see that having a humble heart and a humble spirit is a great thing that God wants from us.
The sacrifice that God wants is a humble spirit. God, you will not turn away someone who comes with a humble heart and is willing to obey you.Psalm 51:17 (ERV)
Humility is not something that God takes lightly. A humble spirit and a humble heart help us be willing to obey God. We also learn from Psalm 51 that it is a sacrifice to have a humble spirit. To be humble, we have to sacrifice our pride.
I had to first identify and hate the pride in my heart that kept me from wanting to need God or get close to him, so humility could grow in my heart instead.
To admit my sins and downfalls without my self-esteem being crushed in the process, I had to hold on to scriptures like the one above that show what God wants. What God wants – humility – is the opposite of what I like to bring to the table.
I always thought I needed to put my best foot forward, hide my flaws if possible, and get people’s approval. I thought as long as I don’t boast about my life or achievements, then I was having a “humble spirit.”
The only thing that changed my mindset about humility was looking at Jesus, studying him, and having a goal to be like him.
Watch our breakdown of Tony Stark’s Iron Man for a good illustration of pride.
Try Jesus’ humble way of life
He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross.Philippians 2:8 GNT
Seeing how Jesus interacted with people – his courage, compassion and love for God and people – I felt intrigued to see if this humble way of life would work for me too. I tried out humility by sharing what my weaknesses were. I winced, held my breath, and blushed, but it didn’t kill me. Alright, one humble thing done and in the books, but a way of life?
I tried out apologizing for sins and attitudes that no one had asked for an apology for, things in my past that I felt guilty for but never cared enough to change. So I called my brother, apologized for how arrogantly I had treated him in high school, and our relationship changed. I finally started thinking, humility really can change everything!
Fast forward 20 years of daily working on seeing my need for God, humbling myself to read the Bible, and pray to him. It has built my faith that humility and obedience work. Expressing needs in my relationships, especially in my marriage, is another game changer!
Humility made obeying God appealing to me because I learned God wanted to bring healing, closeness, and love into my life. Try some of these things for yourself!
- Do you have true obedience or religious rules that you follow?
- How can you humbly seek God and admit your need for him?
- Is there anything in the Bible that you will not obey? Study Jesus’ humble way of life in the Bible to get inspired about what happens when we humbly obey God.
Obedience to God creates the capacity to love
While we’ve made clear by now that the words “humility” and “obedience” can bring up feelings of disdain for us as authors, the word “love” brings feelings of warmth and happiness. Humility actually gives us the capacity to give and receive these warm feelings of love.
I have always marveled at the idea that the Bible talks about love. As a young kid and growing teenager, I looked for definitions of love from movies and television. When I saw the Bible spell it out so clearly in 1 Corinthians 13, for example, I was excited to see the answers to what I was looking for all along.
When we have humility, we can receive from God greater capacity to care for and love others. How does humility create the capacity to love?
The sovereign LORD has given me the capacity to be his spokesman, so that I know how to help the weary. He wakes me up every morning; he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do.  The sovereign LORD has spoken to me clearly; I have not rebelled, I have not turned back. I offered my back to those who attacked, my jaws to those who tore out my beard; I did not hide my face from insults and spitting.  But the sovereign LORD helps me, so I am not humiliated. For that reason I am steadfastly resolved; I know I will not be put to shame.Isaiah 50:4-7 NET
When we are humble enough to “listen attentively” to God every morning, he gives us the capacity to help the weary.
When we love and help others, when we humble ourselves in relationships by apologizing first, initiating conversation, listening first, and considering others’ needs, God helps us so that we are not humiliated.
God equips us to care when we humbly go before him, alert and ready to listen to what he wants us to do.
With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patienceEphesians 4:2 TPT
Whenever you see love in someone, whether it is in a parent, sibling, child, friend, coworker, or even yourself, there was humility first. Humility allows us to show people gentleness because we are aware of our own shortcomings.
Humility allows us to make room for others’ needs, because we don’t think we are too important to help someone else. Humility is what allows us to love generously.
Who needs your tender humility? With the loneliness that is so pervasive around the world, and in our own hearts, we need more capacity to love others. We need humility.
We hope through this article you have been able to see some of the futility of our resistance as well as the sheer benefit in growing more humble. In short, humility allows us to embrace God’s plan, makes obeying God more appealing, and creates more capacity to love, which we so desperately need.
There is so much more to learn to embrace humility! For further study and more scriptures on obeying God, look at the humility of Moses, who was known as the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3), and Jesus, who taught us that humility would help us find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
- What area in your life would benefit you having more humility and more love? Marriage, parenting, career, school, etc?
- How do you think humility would help you have a greater capacity to love?
- Who needs your love this week? How can you show it?