Colossians 3:12b

Put on Humbleness of mind



1. Defined:

a. Ταπεινοφροσύνη
• The prefix means of low not high; a low estate.
• The root is the term for “mind”…
• The entire word speaks of a lowly attitude of mind… an attitude of lowliness.

b. Strong’s: having a humble opinion of one’s self. 2a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness. 3modesty, lowliness of mind.

c. Zodhiates: esteeming ourselves as small, which is the correct estimate of self.

d. Humbleness of mind is the attitude that ought to characterize every believer in Christ.

e. It is the RIGHT concept of oneself – for when we see ourselves before God, we are but dust… and dust has no right exalting itself before God… or other pieces of dust for that matter!

2. Christianity has a completely different mindset than the world.

a. In ancient Greek culture, humility and lowliness were considered to be terms of derision and contempt.

b. Weakness and lowliness were repulsive in Greek thought. They gloried in strength, power, and assertiveness.

c. That’s the way the world thought in Paul’s day – that was the spirit of the age… the course of this world.

d. But the Christian is not to be conformed to the world or the mindset of the world, but is to be transformed by the renewing of his mind.

e. The Christian is to separate himself from the world’s view of life, from the world’s way of thinking.

f. The believer is not to glory in that which the world glories in. We are to glory in that which God glories in.

g. God has always stood opposed to the world’s view on strength and might…
• Jer. 9:23 – Let not the mighty man glory in his might!
• Matt. 18:14 – Jesus spoke of childlike humility as the greatest quality in His kingdom. This was shocking to the culture of that day.
• The world disdained weakness, but Paul wrote, “when I am weak, then am I strong!”
• The world disdained lowliness, but God said “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
• Paul took the Greek term of derision and promoted it to the position of a virtue in Christian thinking.

3. Used to describe the Lord Jesus Christ.

a. Matt. 11:29 – He was lowly in heart.
• LOWLY = same word as humbleness of mind.
• His yoke was easy… (Same word as kind in Col. 3:12.)
• Christ Himself was humble. This was the character of the Man, Christ Jesus.
• Christ submitted completely to the will of His Father. He walked humbly on earth before God.
• If HE (the spotless Son of God; the God-Man) was of a humble mind and heart, then certainly WE should be!
• Note the dual command: (1) take my yoke and (2) learn of Me.
» The yoke spoke of abject subjection… complete submission to… not my will but thine be done.
» Christ challenges His followers to SUBMIT to His yoke… humble submission to His authority.
» And when we do… we will LEARN of Him.
vii. Learn = Manthano (to learn) is a form of mathetes (disciple, or learner).
» The only way we are going to LEARN of Christ (grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ) is to first SUBMIT to His yoke.
» We learn of Christ by submitting to the rigors of discipleship.
» No submission, no learning. (just head knowledge)
» And we will learn of One who is LOWLY in heart (humble).
» In other words, Christlike humility is only learned through experience… submitting to Him and being WILLING to abase oneself.
» That’s how we experience humility… and that’s how we become more like Christ… growing in His image.

• There is no true humility apart from first bowing before the Lord and yielding over our neck to the yoke of Christ…
» The yoke means the END of self-will… absolute surrender. Not my will but thine be done!
» When the animal submits to the yoke, he then has to do what the master directs him to do.
» He is no longer free to roam and wander where he wants. It is a big decision to TAKE on the yoke of Christ…
» We learn of Christ and experience humility when we SUBMIT… are teachable… able to be led by the Spirit… willing to learn… pliable… willing to place ourselves in a very vulnerable position: in the yoke of Christ.
» HE is then MASTER… LORD… in charge.

• This SHOULD BE the NORM for the believer—not just the missionary who travels to foreign lands… or the martyr who submits to the sword rather than deny Christ. This is the norm for EVERY one of us!
» Either we bow to that yoke in abject submission to Christ… or we are resisting in pride and self will… regardless of the good show we might put on.
» The opposite of bowing to the yoke, is described in the Bible in another figure: stiffnecked…
» II Chron. 30:8 – Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD.
» There are only two options:
i. Either we submit to His yoke
ii. Or, we are resisting Him and His will.

• Yieldedness to Christ’s yoke is true HUMILITY before God.
» Anything less is a false humility… an outward appearance of humility.
» But if we TRULY humble ourselves in God’s sight, then that will be manifested in humility towards one another too.
» One who sees himself as the chief of sinners… or as dust in God’s sight, isn’t going to be puffed up in the presence of another sinner!
» True humility is LEARNED behavior. It doesn’t come naturally. It isn’t genetic. It is learned… and we learn it by practice… bowing to Christ’s yoke!
» THEN and only then we learn of the One who is lowly in heart… and we will be transformed into His image.

b. Phil. 2:6-8 – Christ humbled Himself… even to the point of the humiliating death of the cross!
• Vs. 6 – Christ in His inner essence was DIVINE.
• Yet this was not something He felt he had to hold on to. He was willing to let go of the outward display of His divine glory for a time… that He might become a man.
• He made Himself of no reputation – He emptied Himself of all self-interest for the good of others.
• He humbled Himself as an act of obedience to His Father’s will… even to the death of the cross.
• That is the ultimate in submission to a yoke… willing to submit regardless of the personal price…
• The incarnation is the ultimate example of selfless humility… Christ humbled Himself… made Himself lowly… from glory to a dirty manger stall.

c. Phil. 2:7 – He became a servant of men…
• Matt. 20:28 – Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
• John 13:1-10 – Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. His earthly station as teacher was laid aside, and He demonstrated humble service to His disciples.

4. Col. 2:18, 23 – it is often artificially contrived by the religious crowd and false teachers.

a. Paul warned of a false humility.

b. Jesus warned of the same thing—folks who disfigured their faces to make themselves LOOK like they were fasting… poor… contrite… devout… etc.

c. We too can put on a phony facade of humility when we try to APPEAR to be poor, lowly, humble…

d. A worthy walk is characterized by genuine, not phony humility!

5. Humility is often misunderstood and mistreated.

a. Jesus suffered reproach because He humbled Himself and because of His humble position in the world.
• Christ humbled Himself and became a man… born to a poor family…
• His lowly birth and background did not go unnoticed by the proud religious leaders who heard His claims of being Messiah.
• Mark 6:3 – Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
• John 9:29 – We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
• The religious leaders of His day thought just like the world and assumed that nothing good could come from a poor little back country town in Galilee.

b. We too may suffer when genuine humility is exhibited in our lives.
• People will take advantage of those who are genuinely humble. Let them. Suffer yourselves to be defrauded.
• The world glories in self assertiveness and taking care of number one…
• Those who are genuinely humble sometimes get trampled over in the world… and don’t always make it up as far on the social ladder.
• When your life is characterized by esteeming others better than yourself, you don’t always succeed in business or in politics or in other endeavors… (There are exceptions… but few.)
• When you in humility turn the other cheek, you run the risk of having that cheek slapped too.
• When you in humility esteem others better than yourself, some folks will take you up on that.
• In other words, there is often a price to pay in demonstrating humility.
• But GENUINE humility is willing to stick its neck out anyway… even if there is a good chance of getting it chopped off!
• It is costly to follow the example of Christ’s selfless humility… in putting others before oneself.
• It may cost us down here on earth, but in doing so, we are heaping up treasures in heaven!
• That’s the price of investing in our eternal future. It costs us reproach on earth for a time, but it pays eternal dividends in glory.

6. It is essential for the unity of the Body of Christ.

a. Eph. 4:2 – lowliness characterizes a worthy walk.
• In other words, where there is NO humility, our walk is UNWORTHY of our high calling (vocation) in Christ!
• We have been called out of the world and INTO Christ… and are seated with Him in heaven positionally.
• Our new life is hidden away in heaven with Christ… that is the source (or should be) of our earthly lives.
• Could you imagine a sinner saved by grace standing up before God’s throne and exalting himself… boasting of his goodness or accomplishments?
• It would be so out of place… not fitting one in that heavenly position… unworthy behavior for a saint.
• From God’s perspective, it is just as unworthy for fallen flesh like ourselves to exalt self on earth.
• A walk worthy of one’s high calling in Christ is a lowly walk… walking humbly with God.

b. Rom. 12:16 – condescend to men of “low estate” (root word – without the word for “mind”.)
• Condescend does not mean to be condescending and to treat others as lowly… by patronizing and being snobbish!
• The Greek word means to be carried away with something… and is used here in the sense of being caught up with humility… let humility move you… change you… cultivating humility.

c. How appropriate for the cultured Greeks to practice with respect to the relatively uncivilized Barbarians and Scythians!

d. Men in the local church today come from all different social levels too… but those all disappear in the Body of Christ!

e. The rich, educated, and powerful are to condescend—put themselves on the same level as those who do NOT enjoy their privileged earthly position. But they DO share the same heavenly position in Christ.

f. Phil. 2:3 –lowliness of mind.
• It is the opposite of vainglory – glorying in self.
• It esteems others better than self
• Lowly thinking isn’t anything like the mind of the world. It is “the mind of Christ.” (vs. 5)
• Let this MIND be in you! A command.
• Be CLOTHED with this mind of humility… put it on!
vi. It is an expression of godliness… an evidence of growing in the knowledge of Christ… and into His image.


1. I Peter 5:5 – be clothed with humility.

a. This is essentially the same command as Paul gives in Col. 3:12, Put on humbleness of mind!

b. It takes conscious effort on our part to put on humility. It does not come naturally.

c. PRIDE comes naturally. Humility does not.

d. Mohammed Ali used to say, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re the greatest!”

e. It IS hard to be humble… because it is our nature to be the opposite.

f. However, humility is the CLOTHING God wants His children to wear.

g. This is what makes a Christian look good in God’s sight—not beautiful earthly clothes… but heavenly virtue.
• The world glories in strength, wisdom, and riches. They robe themselves in the garments of earthly glory—and from earth’s perspective, they think it makes them look good! They try to impress one another with such beautiful garments.
• God’s people are to glory in humility… that is the garment that makes the new man in Christ look good from heaven’s perspective!

2. Abasing Oneself

a. Rom. 12:3 – not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. (soberly)

b. When we compare ourselves to other men we might exalt ourselves (if we carefully select the men to whom we compare ourselves… and carefully select the criteria for comparison).

c. But when we compare ourselves to God—we are abased!
• Gen. 18:27 – Abraham saw himself as dust and ashes before God.
• Luke 5:8 – Peter saw himself as a sinful man before Christ.
• I Tim. 1:15 – Paul—the chief of sinners.
• Judges 6:15 – Gideon: Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
• These were men who knew how to humble themselves before God.
• They did not think of themselves more highly than they ought… but they thought SOBERLY of themselves.
• Sober: sane, of sound judgment, moderation, – it speaks of a healthy balanced view of oneself.
• As Christians we should see ourselves as sinners, but sinners eternally saved by grace!
• We should see ourselves as but dust and clay… an old clay pot… but a clay pot in which Christ lives!
• We should see ourselves as men and women with a vile sinful nature…
• We should see ourselves as defiled and fallen creatures, but fallen creatures that are in the process of being renewed into the image of Christ!

3. If we see our real life as hidden with Christ in heaven, then our earthly circumstances (rich or poor; president or chimney sweep) will seem comparatively insignificant.

a. How could we be proud of an earthly house, when we are seated in heaven?

b. How can we think we are important, when we see ourselves as seated before the throne of God? etc.

4. Heavenly mindedness always results in humility with respect to our earthly situation. It puts everything into proper focus.

a. That’s why Paul begins this section by saying, “Set your affection on things above!”

b. Viewing life on earth from heaven’s vantage point puts the chimney sweep and the President on the same footing.

5. The OLD proud man we were in Adam died.

a. That old man—the one who thought he was so important, good looking, intelligent, powerful, popular… the one who gloried in his position at work… his fancy house… and who reveled in his bank account. He died.

b. We put on humbleness of mind when we RECKON that to be so… NOT by trying to ACT humble…

c. By FAITH we believe what God said… and yield our necks to God’s yoke… and GENUINE, Spirit wrought humility will be evidenced in our lives… not forced and phony… but genuine fruit of the Spirit.

6. How could anyone who is genuinely dwelling in the heavenlies, ever glory in earthly “things”?

a. How could anyone whose treasures are in heaven glory in his earthly riches?

b. How could anyone who experiences the resurrection power of God glory in his earthly, physical might? (A 1000 years is a day with the Lord… from that perspective, how strong will you be in three hours from now?)

c. When we see ourselves IN CHRIST… on equal footing with our brethren, there is no room for PRIDE over position. Our position in Him is ALL of grace.

d. There is no room for exalting self above another in Christ.

e. It must have been quite humbling for the sophisticated Greeks too learn that in Christ they are on equal footing with the Barbarians… or the slave masters to realize that in God’s sight their slaves were on equal footing with them…

f. But regardless of what conditions on earth might have been, they were to BELIEVE what God said… there IS no difference between Jew and Gentile, red, yellow, black, or white… rich or poor!


1. Nebuchadnezzar in the hanging gardens of Babylon (Dan.4:30-33)

a. Nebuchadnezzar engaged his country in massive building projects… for which he took all the glory.

b. God smote with him insanity… and he was cast out of the throne to the ground… and lived like an animal for 7 years… until he was humbled and acknowledged the God of heaven. (vs. 34-35)

c. God knows how to knock us down off our high horse too! He knows how to ABASE those who exalt themselves.

2. Paul’s thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12:7-10)

a. Paul was smitten with a thorn in the flesh to PREVENT him from becoming proud.

b. He prayed 3 times for it to be removed, but God’s answer was NO each time.

c. This physical affliction was designed to KEEP Paul humble, and thus a useful vessel in God’s hand.

d. Paul learned to GLORY in his weakness and infirmity… in being LOWLY… for then was he STRONG spiritually.

e. Remaining LOWLY in the sight of God and men facilitates the believer to be more TRUSTING in God’s power… and therein is the source of his real strength.

f. Spiritual strength and power come from being made low… and remaining there!

g. God used affliction to KEEP Paul humble and thus useful.

3. Children of Israel in the wilderness. (Deut. 8:16-18)

a. God led them out of Egypt, (by God’s might), and eventually INTO the Promised Land to give them victory over their enemies (by God’s might) into a land flowing with milk and honey.

b. And lest they should be puffed up in pride, God HUMBLED them in the wilderness through affliction. (vs. 16)
• He humbled them to PROVE them (test).
• Would they walk in humble obedience or would they lift up themselves in pride and independence of God?

c. Vs. 17 – God was well aware of the influence of Egypt in their hearts… worldly thinking… it’s human nature!
• Imagine the audacity of a people who saw what Israel saw (Red Sea; walls of Jericho; defeat of Canaanites; etc.) and puff themselves up as if it were their might, skill, and wisdom that accomplished it all?
• That’s the way the world thinks. Men take all the glory to themselves.
• Whatever is accomplished, God is left out and self is exalted.
• We are SO inclined to lift ourselves up in pride…
• And God is STILL ABLE to abase all human pride.
• God spent 40 years of Israel’s history in the wilderness humbling this proud people.
vii. God knew how to humble that generation of proud men.
viii. He knows how to humble you and me too. If it takes 40 years, so be it.
• God will get His way in the end. Proud flesh will not be allowed to exalt itself forever.

d. Fleshly pride is nauseating to God.
• Prov. 25:27 – It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory. (What is the connection between the two sides of this proverb? They are both sickening and could make you vomit!)
• Luke 18:14 – the proud Pharisee would one day be abased by God Himself… if not in this life, in the life to come. It is the spirit of that proud man that God especially hates… corrupting, rotten flesh exalting itself in the sight of an infinitely holy God!
• And He doesn’t think any more highly of the nauseating pride in my life or yours!

4. God resists the proud. (Jas. 4:6)

a. Resists: to arrange; To set an army in array against, to set oneself in opposition to or in array against, to resist.

b. Present tense – continual opposition on the part of God.

c. When we take our head out of God’s yoke, and attempt to push our own agenda forward in pride, we will discover we are pushing against God Himself… and if God be against us, look out!

d. Almighty God and the armies of heaven are set in battle formation against us… and we will never win that conflict.

e. We can fight against Him for the next 50 years if we so chose, but it is a losing battle.

f. God wants us to surrender… submit… humble ourselves before Him… before His authority… before His Word.

g. THEN we shall be strong spiritually… and not a second before.

h. Is there some area of your life where you have not surrendered over to the Lord? Are we still stiffnecked? Unsubmissive? Proud and independent?

i. It makes so much sense to surrender to Him… it is such reasonable service to present our bodies to Him…

j. It is so foolish to continue flattering self into thinking that self can win in a battle against God…

k. If God has pricked your heart about some area where you need to humble yourself before Him—today is the day to wave the white flag… to surrender to Christ… to humble self before Him.

l. Quit behaving like the proud, arrogant, self willed, defiant old man that you were in Adam, and start behaving like the new man in Christ… like Christ Himself: who humbled Himself for us and became a servant of men!

m. God knows how to humble us, but He would much prefer that we humble ourselves before He has to!

n. Put on humbleness of mind.


1. Jas. 4:10 – God lifts up the humble…

a. Lift up = To heighten, raise high, elevate

b. The world says we need more self-esteem.

c. God says the opposite. We need to humble ourselves, and allow GOD to lift us up!

d. I Peter 5:6 – God will exalt you in due time. (Maybe not today, but in His good time! That’s a promise)

2. Jas. 4:6 – God gives grace to the humble… (present tense)

a. Grace from God doesn’t come our way by standing tall and beating our chests about all of our good deeds and accomplishments.

b. Grace comes from God to those who bow down low before Him…

c. Ps. 138:6 – though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

d. Isa. 66:2 – but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

e. Isa. 57:15 – For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

3. Summary: Which would you rather have?

a. God regarding your cause? God showing respect to you and your condition? God dwelling with you?

b. OR God and the hosts of heaven arranged in battle array to oppose your pride and resist your every move?

c. Then put on humbleness of mind! Bow before Him lowly… bend the knee… submit to His yoke… even if it involves eating some distasteful humble pie…

d. And you will discover that His yoke is easy… less harsh than life apart from God’s fellowship!

e. You will discover God’s grace in your life… He will lift you up… if you will bow down before Him.

IF YOU ARE NOT SAVED… you need to come to Christ first as Savior.
Matt. 11:28-29
It is humbling to acknowledge that we are sinners; unable to save ourselves; spiritually destitute apart from God; and in NEED of a Savior.
But believe God, and COME to the Savior.
He will give you eternal life.

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