Humiliation or Humbling?

By Joe Terrell

God humbles every one of His people as He calls them. This experience is often difficult to bear, but the fruit of it, humility, is blessed. This humbling work continues throughout the believer's lifetime, producing in him that Christ-like character of meekness and lowliness of heart. But, religion will always try to produce what only God can produce, and when it does, it is able to produce only a very poor counterfeit of the real thing. When religion aims for humility, it generally produces only humiliation. It is true that we would all be humiliated if all our actions and inner thoughts were revealed. But the gospel does not aim for humiliation, but humility. Nor does the gospel use the prospect of humiliation as a threat to goad us on to a particular way of life. Note these distinctions between God-given humility and man-made humiliation:

(1) Humiliation is the work of the law, humility is the work of grace.

(2) Humiliation is a wounding of pride, humbling is the killing of pride.

(3) The humiliated man is embittered by his humiliation, the humbled man is made content and meek.

(4) The humiliated man finds comfort in the prospect of doing better and thus redeeming his character and reputation; the humbled man does not think he can do better of himself and finds comfort that Jesus Christ has redeemed his soul.

(5) The humiliated man will judge others, then justify himself that he is not as bad as some others; the humbled man will see himself as the chief of sinners and justify himself only by the merits of Jesus Christ.

(6) The humiliated man feels worthless before men; the humbled man feels worthless before God. For example, Saul was humiliated by the revelation that David was a better man, and thus became more embittered against David and God. David saw his sin as before God alone, and was drawn to seek the Lord by the revelation of his sin.

(7) The humiliated man is angry and sad; the humbled man is content and happy. Which are you?


Joe Terrell, Pastor
Grace Community Church of Rock Valley, Iowa