Cultivating a Mindset of Humility

Cultivating a Mindset of Humility

Author: Pastor Daniel Miller
June 01, 2024

Cultivating a mindset of humility

Philippians 2:1–11

As born-again believers, many, if not most of us, recognize our own battle against pride. Pride is so intricately woven into our nature as sinners since our first parents sinned against God and then blamed everyone but themselves for the fall. This prideful act of sin led to hostility with God, conflict with one another, and conflict with nature. It is no wonder that pride and conflict are so closely related.

The apostle Paul understood this relationship very well when he penned the letter to the Philippian church. The church was growing spiritually and their love for one another was increasing (Philippians 1:9). To further advance the gospel message, Paul wanted these believers to have a particular way of thinking that would lead to unity in the church and progress in the work of the gospel. He wanted them to cultivate a mindset of humility (2:3). More specifically, he wanted them to have the same way of thinking that Jesus had, which led Him to take on the limitations of humanity, to put Himself in the lowest position as a servant, and to die the kind of horrific death that came about through crucifixion. Paul didn’t command them to do what Christ did, but rather to think the way He thought.

Philippians 2:1–11 instructs us of the crucial importance of cultivating a mindset of humility, which leads to unity in the local church. Humility will also lead to unity in other relationships as well such as marriage, friendships, and work relationships. What are some ways we can cultivate a mindset of humility and weed out the stubborn roots of pride? Philippians 2 gives an abundance of application that we can put into practice to help us develop the kind of humility that fosters thriving relationships.

Here are 5 practices for developing a mindset of humility:

1. Obey Scripture

This first point may seem pretty obvious to Christians. Of course we are to be obedient to Scripture! After all, it is God’s spoken word that informs our faith and practice. What does obedience to Scripture have to do with cultivating a mindset of humility?
The humility that Jesus exercised while on earth was a humility that was 100% submissive to the will of God the Father.[1] Jesus spoke with His Heavenly Father daily and submitted His human will to the Father in all things. The human nature of our Divine Savior required a submission of His human will to the plan of the Triune God. If that concept makes your brain hurt a little, don’t worry. It is a truth about the complexity of our Savior being both fully God and fully man that we cannot completely grasp.
Even though we don’t have the audible voice of God to instruct us, we have the complete Scripture which gives us all the revelation and instructions about God that we need to know for living godly lives. Scripture speaks to us and reveals the will of our Heavenly Father. Humility is needed to be 100% submissive to His will rather than our own.
How many times have you and I read something in Scripture that convicted our hearts, but we didn’t really like it because the application was too specific? I can remember a time when I read Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification…” and thinking, “Surely God doesn’t expect me to do this all the time! Sometimes you just have to blow off some steam and let ’em have it!” This is not receiving God’s Word with a humble attitude, but instead comes from pride. Obedience to Scripture comes from a mind that is cultivated by humility.

2. Listen to the advice of others

A prideful person invariably considers his opinion to be better than everyone else’s and does not carefully consider what others have to say. Pride in this area is like earplugs. You can only faintly hear what others have to say and you are drowning it out with the sound of your own voice.
Proverbs 13:10 highlights the conflict that is produced by drowning out the voice of others by your own self-confidence. “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom” (ESV). To be insolent is to be rude or arrogant because of pride. This kind of attitude inevitably leads to conflict and disunity. A prideful person does not listen to the advice of others but follows his plans and ideas.
On the other side is the kind of attitude that leads to unity and harmony. This person carefully takes into consideration the advice that others are offering him. He does not quickly dismiss the perspectives, guidance, and suggestions of others. This person not only has wisdom, but also has an attitude of humility. He is not so full of pride that he cannot hear what anyone else has to say. This is an attitude that is tempered by a mind that is being cultivated in humility.

3. Seek out counsel from others
Sometimes advice comes unsolicited. Sometimes it is sought out. Advice and counsel are words that can be used synonymously, but here I am specifically speaking of our need to seek it out from a wise person or persons. Actively seeking out and listening to good counsel from others is another byproduct of humble mind.
The book of Proverbs begins by speaking of the foundation of wise living for a person’s life. Proverbs 1:5 describes one such practice of the wise person: “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel”. A wise person both listens to the advice and instruction of others, and he actively seeks out the wise counsel of others. God did not design for us to think, live, and operate autonomously from one another. The need to seek out good counsel is a humbling reminder to us that our own understanding is very limited.
One of the most damning statements in the Bible is written about a people who perpetually followed their own understanding. After presenting an awful story of gruesome sin resulting in a terrible war with tens of thousands of casualties in a matter of days, the book of Judges explains the reason for all these horrendous events. The last verse in the book says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The people lacked humility before the Lord and before one another. May that statement in Judges not be said of any one of us!

4. Consider the rebuke of others
You have heard the saying, “we all have blind spots,” which is true! God has given us the instruction of His Word and a conscience to instruct us in the right way. Sometimes we still don’t listen to either of those things and we need the correction of others to point out when we have sinned or acted unwisely. So many times, though, we justify our own actions rather than considering the rebuke of others. After all, we have good reasons for doing what we did!
David learned the importance of this truth in his life after committing the grave sin of forcing another woman into an adulterous act with him. We learn from psalms that he wrote during this period of his life that his conscience was accusing him relentlessly after he sinned. His relationship with the Lord during this time was impeded by his sin and he was fraught with guilt. When Nathan the prophet came to David to rebuke him for his sin, David declared, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).  Later in Psalm 141:5, David prayed, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it.”
May we be like David and accept the reproof of others and not be like King Jehoiakim who burned up the scroll containing a rebuke from the prophet Jeremiah (See Jeremiah 36:23). King David received mercy from the Lord for his sin. King Jehoiakim did not and was killed by the hand of his enemies.

5. Remember your own standing before the Lord

We have several reminders in the New Testament regarding our place before the Lord. We were once sinners, enemies with God, condemned for our sin, under God’s wrath, and headed for eternal punishment. God is the one who demonstrated his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We all come to the cross as equals, whether great or small, one race or nationality or another, male or female. We have no standing before the Lord based on our own merit, only by grace.
Romans 12:3 reminds us, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…” There is no hierarchy among Christians as to who is more important than another. God has gifted everyone with different gifts and abilities by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up the church. He reminded the Philippian believer in Philippians 2:3-4 “…with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; not merely looking out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” We tend to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to and consider our personal interests above the interests of others. These verses remind us that this comes from a place of pride rather than humility. Considering our own standing before the Lord will remind us that we are not more important that another Christian. Considering others more important than ourselves is accompanied with a mindset that is shaped by humility.

Cultivating a mindset of humility is part of the sanctifying work of God that is worked out in us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This practice is not optional for the believer. It is a command for us to follow and practice willingly. In Isaiah 66:2b God says, “this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

[1] See Philippians 2:8, Hebrews 5:8, and Luke 22:42.






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