There is Wisdom in Humility

Bible Book: Proverbs  11 : 02
Subject: Humility; Wisdom; Pride
Series: Proverbs - Sermon Notebook

The student had a sense of humor. Everyone knew that and because they knew that they always expected something amusing when he entered a room. Usually, there was the good natured banter associated with students, but on this particular day it took a recover time of several seconds before anyone could respond. Jim entered the room and asked, “Hey, did you hear about my new book? MY HUMILITY AND HOW I OBTAINED IT! I have never personally know anyone who has written a book by that title, but once while visiting my mother, I found a well used little paperback book and when I turned it over I read the title, HUMILITY. The author, not surprisingly, was Andrew Murray. By the way, if Andrew Murray wrote it, read it! You may want to start with his book, WITH CHRIST IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER.


“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

A. The Law Stresses the Importance God Places on Humility.

1. Pharaoh came under judgment because of pride (Ex. 10:3).

“And Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, >Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, >How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me” (emphasis added).

2. The Law demands humility (Lev. 16:31).

“It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.”

3. Sabbath observance requires humility (Lev. 23:29).

“If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.”

B. Humility Is Essential to God’s Servants.

1. “Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on” (Num. 12:3).

2. David knew the Lord hears “the desire of the humble” (Ps. 10:17).

“He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (25:9).

C. The Prophets Looked for a Savior Who Would Be Humble, (Zech. 9:9).

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”


A. Humble Yourself in a Time of Trouble, (Pro. 6:3).

“Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.”

B. Humility Is Essential to Wisdom, (Pro. 11:2).

“When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.”

C. Humility Is to Be Preferred to Pride (Pro. 16:18-19).

“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. t is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

“A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

D. Humility Is Demanded By the Lord (Is. 66:2b).

“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).


A. Jesus Demands Humility of His Followers.

1. Jesus was humble when He was on earth (Matt. 11:29).

“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS”.

“But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond‑servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:7-11).

2. Jesus stress this in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:5).

“Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”

Let us settle one thing once and for all. Meekness is not weakness. Humility does not make one a doormat. There can be great power in humility. I once had the distinct privilege of sitting on the same pew with two of the Lord’s special servants. It was in 1978 and we were there to receive doctorates from Luther Rice Seminary when the main campus was still located in Jacksonville, Florida. Now, my humility demands that I confess that I had not been assigned a place on the same pew with them at First Baptist, Jacksonville. As a matter of fact, I was having to use a wheel chair because of serious strains to both feet and Dr. Michael Warr had pushed me into the sanctuary and parked me almost dead center in front of the communion table, against the front pew to my left. Dr. Warr would push me in the chair to the steps to my left and I would walk across the podium and then return to the wheel chair, and then John, my older son, would take over. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

Well, there was a problem. The aisle was steep and the brakes on the borrowed wheel chair were not holding. It kept creeping down toward the communion table and I kept taking feet and pushing myself back into place. The more I pushed the more my feet hurt - and burned like crazy. I could handle the pain, but the burning was another thing altogether. So, I finally reached over and motioned for Dr. Warr to move over, and I joined them on the front row. We were crowded, but I was not moving, even if Stephen Olford and Spiros Zodhiates were uncomfortable. Later I sent Dr. Zodhiates, publisher of PULPIT HELPS, a note and mentioned it. He wrote back, “I remember you well.” I never asked if he remembered me because of the wheel chair or because of my imposition. Knowing Dr. Zodihiates, I doubt that he even remembered any discomfort.

However, the person I want to mention her is not Dr. Zodhiates but Stephen Olford. I distinctly remember meeting Stephen Olford, standing with him, shaking hands with him, looking into his eyes, and hearing his voice. He made a strong and very definite impression, but an impression I would be able to analyze only after some reflection. Later, it hit me: I was looking into the eyes of a man of great power - and great humility. Everything I have read and heard about Dr. Olford since then has reinforced that impression, an impression shared by more people than I can count. When I have heard Stephen Olford preach, I have always left sensing that I really needed that message.

I once attended a Bible Conference with my son John. Speakers were Adrian Rodgers, Charles Stanley, Jerry Vines, John MacArthur, Stephen Olford, and others. When we were driving home John said, “You know, I really enjoyed Jerry Vines.” I said, “Most of the preachers there enjoyed all the speakers. They said what we expected them to say and they preached the way we wanted them to preach and we loved it. However, Stephen Olford said what we had rather not hear, but he said what we needed to hear and while we didn’t really want to hear it, we needed it.” I really didn’t want to hear about preachers who are too lazy to study and prepare expository sermons! That was getting a little too close for comfort. Stephen Olford has demonstrated to me that a man of great power can also be a man of humility.

Meekness does not mean weakness, and humility does not make one a doormat. A fellow officer stood staring at his commanding officer, General JEB Stuart before a cavalry charge against overwhelming odds. Stuart showed no fear at all and this amazed the other officer. Almost as though he was reading his mind, JEB Stuart looked into the eyes of his friend and said, “When you fear God you don’t have to fear anything else.”

B. Humility Is Seldom Stressed By the High Esteem Advocates Today.

A young man came by my house a number of years ago and asked for some help with an assignment for his College English class. He was to write a letter asking an employer for a job. In the letter, he was supposed to try to impress the hypothetical employer with all the things he could do for his company. Later, I asked the student about his assignment. He told me he got a “B” on his letter. I was surprised that he did not get an “A” because he had put a lot into it and he was a very capable young man. He explained that his professor had written in the margin that he was too humble. He was, and is a person of genuine humility. He is a committed Christian who is today in a position to influence hundreds of young people. His humility is one of his most outstanding attributes.

For decades now, social scientists have been warning of all the problems related to low self-esteem. Books, conferences, and talk shows have tried to convince us that low self-esteem causes everything from behavior problems in school, to drug and alcohol abuse, and crime. My wife has taught sixth graders for many years and she stresses that her behavior problems usually come from those who seem to have extremely high self-esteem. Experts tell us the same thing about more recent studies of inmates in prison. My son has served as chief prosecutor of a medium sized city and an assistant district attorney for several years. He spends all day every day either in court or dealing with problems on the phone or in his office. He assures me that low self-esteem is seldom the cause behind the problems he deals with every day.

A number of years ago, Robert McGhee, founder of Rapha Ministries, wrote a book I would recommend to anyone. The title is, The Search for Significance. McGhee stated that he wrestled with low self-esteem for years before he learned that when he focused on high Christ-esteem he stopped worrying about high self-esteem. He discovered when he concentrated on pleasing Jesus Christ he ceased worrying about everyone else’s approval.

C. Humility Is More Easily Recognized than defined.

What exactly is humility? Humility may be defined as a lack of vanity or sense of self-importance. Using that definition, we can see that the term may be applied to the unsaved, but when we go to the Word of God it becomes obvious that we are dealing with something a little deeper.

In the first place, there is the work “meek”, which has a very interesting background. It was used on one who was teachable. I understand that someone found a letter written by a Greek woman whose husband was serving in the army of Alexander the Great. The wife wrote, “The horse you captured is now >meek’ and our daughter can ride him.” The horse had not been rendered weak, it had been broken. It was as powerful as ever, but now that power had been harnessed - that is, it had been brought under control.

The humble Christian is one who has first been empowered by the Holy Spirit, and then he has voluntarily placed himself under the control of the Holy Spirit. >As Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient” to the Father, so must we. Humility and obedience are inseparable.


The land of Persia was once ruled by a wise and beloved Shah who cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the fire. The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became attached to this stranger because he "came where he was". One day the Shah revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift. Instead, he looked long into his leader's face and with love and wonder in his voice said, "You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!"

As we think of what our Lord has done for us, we can echo that fire tender's sentiments. Oh, what a step our Lord took ‑‑ from heaven to earth, from the worship of angels to the mocking of cruel men, from glory to humiliation!

Possibly in this we find a good working definition of humility - a willingness to give yourself to others. That may mean giving others your time or your attention. It may involve your resources, talent, and energy.

D. There Are Many Reasons We Should Humble Ourselves Before Our Lord.

1. God rejects the proud.

2. He gives grace to the humble.

3. Pride invites the wrath of God - pride operates in defiance of God.

4. Humility is a key to fellowship with God - you cannot walk with God in pride.

5. Humility is a key to a meaningful prayer life - if you are not humble you are not praying.

6. Humility is essential to true worship - if you are not in church, you are not humble.

7. Humility is essential in relationships - pride breeds strife, not humility.

8. Humility is a prerequisite to wisdom - the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

9. Humility is essential in family relationships - Humility seeks biblical solutions in the family.

10. Humility is essential for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit

11. Humility is essential for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

12. Humility is essential in service to the Lord - don’t think you can serve Him in pride.

13. Humility is essential to those who preach the Gospel.

A young seminary graduate came up to the lectern, very self confident and immaculately dressed. He began to deliver his first sermon in his first church and the words simply would not come out. Finally he burst into tears and ended up leaving the platform obviously humbled.

There were 2 older ladies sitting in the front row and one remarked to the other, "If he'd come in like he went out, he would have gone out like he came in" [BI].

14. Humility is essential in spiritual warfare.

General Jerry Boykin trains Green Berets. He is also a committed Christian and a very spiritually sensitive man. General Boykin recently delivered a moving message to one hundred FAITH evangelism trainees at his base in North Carolina. At one point, he stated with great emphasis, “Your focus is not Heaven, that is your reward. Your focus should be on building the Kingdom of God.”

He had just revealed something very interesting about the war in Afghanistan. At the beginning of the war, he said, we flew three squads of twelve Green Berets, a total of thirty-six Green Berets, into Afghanistan in helicopters. They were armed with light rifles and 9mm pistols. They also had radios and the captain had a laser target designator. When they went out to meet the war lord who commanded the Northern Alliance, it was very obvious that the war lord was confused when he saw only a hand full of Americans with light weapons.

The captain asked him what was keeping him from Kabul. The warlord pointed to the hills across the way and said, the Taliban. He looked as if to ask, “What do you think you can do?” The captain asked how long he had been holed up there and was told that they had been there three and one-half years. Again, he looked as though he could not believe America had sent such a token force. The captain said, “Point out a target and stand back and watch.” He did and the captain hit the target with the laser target designator, and as General Boykin said, “Rolling Thunder began coming over the mountain, and for two and one-half weeks, Rolling Thunder continued, until the Taliban was smashed.” When the laser target designator hit the target smart bombs and shells followed it to the target. In two and one-half weeks thirty six men mobilized a force of thousands.

General Boykin explained that these Green Berets did not have the power to do that. They only had light rifles and 9 mm pistols. These men were “force multipliers” who had power behind them they could call in to accomplish the objective. Then the General went on to explain that we are in a spiritual war today and we need force multipliers to win the battle. AYou cannot defeat the enemy, but you can call on a Force Who can. One man on his knees with the Holy Spirit is more powerful than a battleship. Ten men with the Holy Spirit can take back your city. One hundred men with the Holy Spirit and you can take back your state.”

We do not have the power to win spiritual battles, but we have the power behind us, That power is the Holy Spirit. Humility recognizes that fact and yields to Him. Humility in spiritual warfare means a commitment to our Heavenly Father, obedience to Jesus Christ, and surrender to the Holy Spirit.


Confess pride and seek forgiveness and restoration. “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).