Can we be both humble and bold or do we have to choose one or the other? Pairing humility and boldness is as unexpected as an Olympic swimmer who is afraid of water or a peanut butter and watermelon sandwich! An online resource lists boldness as the opposite of humility.1
We rarely see humility paired with boldness because we do not understand biblical humility. Humility is the fluttering flag of freedom of citizens in the gentle land where self-centeredness, pride, and belittling oneself are aliens. Humility is not criticizing and diminishing ourselves but forgetting ourselves. Boldness speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) or acts self-sacrificially when self-focused fear begs us to do neither.
I heard Edmund Chan speak at a gathering of pastors. He was humble boldness made flesh. He wasn’t a dramatic speaker, but his words were like arrows and his character the bow. Humbly, he spoke hard truths in love to us pastors. Humble boldness is a vital dimension of spiritual maturity.
Jesus was both humble and bold. He described Himself as humble in heart (Matthew 11:29). He humbled Himself to die on a cross (Philippians 2:8). He also kept on speaking the truth boldly during His ministry when his message offended the religious leaders of His day. They wanted to arrest Him because they recognized the parable of the tenants was spoken against them (Mark 12:12). He drove out those who were buying and selling in the temple courts. He upset the tables of the money changers and the benches of those who were selling doves (Matthew 21:12).
Spirit-filled boldness was characteristic of Jesus’ humble followers (Acts 4:31, 9:28, 13:46, 14:3, 19:8, 28:31, 2 Corinthians 3:12). Humility and boldness kiss in 2 Corinthians 10:1 (NIV): “By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!” The mature believer is both humble and bold. Both are the fruit of denying ourselves (Luke 9:23). I need more of both. How about you?
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