What's So Joyful about Humility?

When most people think of humility, they think of someone who’s diminished, broken, and depressed. Where’s the joy in that?

After seventy years of captivity in Babylon, the Israelites returned to Jerusalem. A broken city. A broken people. All around lay the rubble, the evidence of the consequences of sin.

Under Ezra, the first group of returnees rebuilt the temple. Several years later, under Nehemiah, the walls were rebuilt. But the people remained broken.

Then Ezra read the Law of the Lord to the people. The final breaking. In the blinding light of God’s perfection, they saw the filth of their sin—not only their personal sins but the sins of their nation and of their ancestors. “All of the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:9).

From that final breaking came healing. For a quarter of a day, they confessed their sins before the Lord. A quarter of a day!

From that healing came joy. Nehemiah told the people, “‘Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Yes, the act of confession can rip open your heart and soul when you come face to face with God’s holiness and your own sinfulness. But it results in forgiveness and joy. God is merciful! God loves us! God has restored us!

Humility doesn’t diminish you—it makes you whole. Humility doesn’t break you—it heals your pre-existing brokenness. Humility isn’t depressing—it’s joyful!

How do you cultivate humility in a culture that values pride?

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