I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Humility is a high mark of the Christian. Once saved, we know that everything in life is a gift of grace. There should be no room for pride. The Greek word for humility that Paul uses is ταπεινοφροσύνη (tapeinophrosynē). This noun is defined as the state of having a “humble opinion of one’s self,” a “deep sense of one’s moral littleness,” or “lowliness of mind.”
Elsewhere, in Romans 12:3, he writes:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
It’s a curious way to exhort us to remain gracious and humble, isn’t it? Notice that Paul begins with “by the grace given to me.” His exhortation flows out of the very grace he received himself! He knows that the Christian life is a life that is received by grace and it remains as so. It begins in humility before God, and it continues in that same spirit of humility—toward God and toward others.
Paul also calls us to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and he pleads with eagerness (Ephesians 4:3). His words indicate that the church ought to make a real effort to keep this unity. We ought to focus on the things that truly matter: walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. By grace, let us do so.
Jesus was the greatest example of this humility. I love these words from Jonathan Edwards on the subject:
“Let all be exhorted earnestly to seek much of a humble spirit, and to endeavor to be humble in all their behavior toward God and men. Seek for a deep and abiding sense of your comparative meanness before God and man.
Know God. Confess your nothingness and ill-desert before Him. Distrust yourself. Rely only on God. Renounce all glory except from Him. Yield yourself heartily to His will and service.
Avoid an aspiring, ambitious, ostentatious, assuming, arrogant, scornful, stubborn, wilful, levelling, self-justifying behaviour. And strive for more and more of the humble spirit that Christ manifested while He was on earth.
Consider the many motives to such a spirit. Humility is the most essential and distinguishing trait of all true piety. It is the attendant of every grace, and in a peculiar manner tends to the purity of Christian feeling. It is the ornament of the spirit.
It is the source of some of the sweetest exercises of Christian experience. It is the most acceptable sacrifice we can offer to God. It is the subject of the richest of His promises. It is the spirit with which He will dwell on earth, and which He will crown with glory in heaven hereafter.
Earnestly, then, and diligently and prayerfully cherish, a humble spirit, and God shall walk with you here below. And when a few more days shall have passed, He will receive you to the honours bestowed on His people at Christ’s right hand.”
–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth), 155-156.