In the Bible, humility describes a character quality that properly values and accurately assesses oneself, especially in light of one’s sinfulness. In this sense, humility is a virtue that involves modest self-perception. It is the direct opposite of pride and arrogance. The Bible says that humility is the appropriate posture people ought to have with God. When we maintain a humble attitude, we reveal our dependence on God.
Humility is a character quality that is of supreme value in the eyes of God. The Bible tells us that the Lord blesses, honors, and favors those who are genuinely humble.
And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NLT)
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (NLT)
1 Peter 5:5
In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NLT)
“There is a very close connection between humility and patience. Humility involves having the capacity to take a more confrontational stance, having the capacity to retaliate if you wish, yet deliberately deciding not to do so. That is what I would call genuine humility. I think that true tolerance or patience has a component or element of self-discipline and restraint–the realization that you could have acted otherwise, you could have adopted a more aggressive approach, but decided not to do so. “ - Dalai Lama
Like other spiritual traditions, Buddhism sees humility as a virtue. In the Buddhist text on Maha-karuna (great compassion), humility is one of the ten sacred qualities attributed to Avalokite Bodhisattva, or Buddha of Compassion. Within that context, it appears to be a natural by-product of supreme spiritual attainments that transcends the ego, just as are the four noble states of mind -- love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
However, Mahayana Buddhism also advocates humility as a moral precept. As such it is often expressed in terms of exhortation against an arrogant or haughty attitude. Being a sign of ego-centeredness, pride is seen as impeding acceptance of the Buddha's teachings and progress towards spiritual liberation. Buddhist practitioners believe that only a humble mind can readily recognize its own defilements of craving (or greed), aversion (or hatred) and ignorance, thereby embarking on the path of enlightenment and liberation.
"I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men." - Lao-Tzu
Humility is one of the most essential ethical concepts in Taoism with far-reaching influence on humanity. Though there were a plenty of words that described “humility” in ancient China, Taoism elaborates on the concept in a profound way, adding to the theoretical depth and scope of humility. The understanding of humility in Taoism is systematic instead of random or fragmented.
In Taoism, humility is considered a virtue, but it is not limited to interpersonal relationships nor is it considered simply a moral characteristic. Viewed from a broad perspective, humility is placed within a holistic context and considered the quintessential manifestation of the role of the Tao.
The value of anavah, or humility, often is described as one of the most important values within Jewish tradition, particularly for those in positions of leadership. Humility may often be construed as having a lack of self-esteem or even being unassertive. However, the value of anavah best can be understood as excessive pride. Moses, who is described as the “most humble man of them all,” fell short of his reputation when his ego led him to being banned from entering the Promised Land.
Humility is a matter of perspective, it is an understanding that our own greatness emerges when we recognize how we as individuals fit within in the larger community. One who is humble understands the importance of placing other’s needs before his or her own. Our own contributions, talents, and gifts are essential to our roles within the community, but one who truly possesses the quality of anavah needs no recognition, aims for any attention to be drawn away from him or herself, and lives without concern of what others think of them.
The virtue of humility is mentioned in the Bhagavadgita as absence of self-importance. It is a divine quality, which arises from the predominance of sattva. It is one of the features of devotion and surrender. If you have humility, it is an indication that you have sattva.
“The superior man is distressed by the limitations of his ability; he is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability that he has.” - Confucius