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Humility and Boldness: Why We Need Both

Humility is often misunderstood, but is essential for godly boldness…

When we think of a “humble” dwelling, we imagine a hut with no indoor plumbing, no glass or screens in the windows, and—heaven help us—no air conditioning. In a secular, every-day sense, humble means lowly or inferior, and humility means thinking we are lowly or inferior.

In the Bible, humility is so different and so important. The Bible dictionary definition of humility is: “A personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.” Humility is the foundation for godly boldness.

In Acts, chapter 4, we see how humility is essential for boldness. Peter and John had been arrested for preaching salvation through Jesus. After a night in prison, they were freed, but commanded to never talk again about Jesus.

Right after they were released from prison, they gathered with other believers to pray and seek God. I imagine they were tired, discouraged, and scared, but the first words in their prayer acknowledged the sovereignty of God. They prayed about the opposition and threats they were receiving. And in spite of their negative circumstances, they acknowledged that God was in control and that their trials were part of God’s plan.

Before they asked anything of God, they humbled themselves in his presence. Humility is acknowledging that we are nothing on our own, but also knowing who we are in Christ. Godly humility is the recognition that we are completely dependent on God’s help, coupled with the confidence that, through him, we can do anything.

Here’s the rest of their prayer: “O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).  They knew their own strength was insufficient. They needed courage in an ungodly land. They needed boldness in an unbelieving culture. And they had enough humility to know they desperately needed this equipping to come from the hand of God.

Verse 31 says that after this prayer, the Holy Spirit filled them. The disciples preached the word of God with boldness. Here’s the secret: Godly humility comes first and Holy Spirit boldness follows.

Being bold means something different in each of our lives. It may mean offering to pray for a neighbor or a co-worker. It may mean inviting someone to church or telling them what Jesus has done in our lives. It may mean standing up for God in the face of opposition. God will give us courage and boldness IF we have humbled ourselves and asked for his strength.

We have an amazing hope living within us. Let us rely on our God and speak the truth in humility and boldness.

Dear God, my help comes from you. On my own strength, I’m nothing. But through your strength, I can do anything. Give me humility and boldness to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit and reach people with the message of your love and salvation. In the name of Jesus, amen.

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