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Bible Study: Humility in the Beatitudes

NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passages: Matthew 5:3; Ephesians 4:1-2

Discussion Questions:

  • What is humility? Is it positive? Negative? Explain your answer.
  • When you think of God’s expectations for His people, is humility typically on that list? Why or why not?
  • How does one experience humility? Is it something we can practice and work for? Is it forced upon us by circumstances? Can we influence whether or not we have humility or the degree to which we have it? Explain.

Food for thought:

What feelings, images or thoughts come to mind when you hear humility? Does your mind immediately flash to a time of embarrassing humiliation, perhaps brought on by your own inadvertent slip up or another’s intentional cruelty? Do feelings of devastation and anger wash over you, nearly leading to burning cheeks and hot tears? Can you get beyond the hurt of that experience to see another side of humility? Even a blessing?

Author Jerry Bridges’ research led him to conclude that humility is the character trait taught in the New Testament more than any other trait save one, that of love. Love frequently makes its way into our sermons, Bible studies and small group discussions. Humility? Not so much. Yet it surely did not receive the second most treatment in the New Testament because it lacked importance, did it? In “The Blessing of Humility,” Bridges sees the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 as the depiction of humility in action in everyday life, complete with the blessing promised to accompany the trait.

Paul used the word humility in Ephesians 4:1-2, Philippians 2:3 and Colossians 3:12. Peter did the same in 1 Peter 5:5. But when Jesus spoke the Beatitudes, He used a phrase describing humility – “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). The word Jesus chose for “poor” in the material realm did not suggest someone who had trouble making ends meet. Instead, it referred to the person who had no means whatsoever, the poorest of the poor, abject poverty. Thus in the spiritual realm, Jesus had in mind more than a courteous self-deprecation. Jesus spoke of humility like that of the tax collector in Luke 18 who acknowledged not only in words but also in behavior his undeserving, sinful nature.

Such a one is poor in spirit. And such a recognition and acknowledgement of one’s spiritual poverty becomes the foundation for the blessings Jesus enumerated in the remainder of the Beatitudes. The study of humility might not be popular, but our progression through the blessedness of the Beatitudes depends on our grasping humility’s truth.


MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at lifeway.com/masterwork.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources