What is the Relationship Between Faith and Humility?

faith – Complete trust or confidence in someone or something
humility – The quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance
(Oxford Dictionary)

Are the attributes of faith and humility in conflict with each other, or is there at least some tension between them? Faith motivates courageous action. Humility restrains us from acting rashly. Yet the prophet Mormon taught that the two traits are interdependent. He said that a person “cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart. If so, his faith and hope is vain” (Moroni 7:43-44). And Alma counseled his son Helaman to teach members of the church to have “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” and “to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart” (Alma 37:33).

So what does humble faith look like?

The first thing we must clarify is the object of our faith. Many years ago, President Dallin H. Oaks reminded us:

The first principle of the gospel is not “faith.” The first principle of the gospel is “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (A of F 1:4)…. Faith does not exist by itself. Faith requires an object. It must be faith in something or someone (“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” General Conference, April 1994).

Faith is not self-confidence. It is confidence in God. It motivates action because it affirms that we can work miracles with God’s help.

Likewise, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has taught us that humility isn’t about demeaning ourselves:

Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman (“Pride and the Priesthood,” General Conference, October 2010).

Last April, Elder David A. Bednar clarified what it means to be meek:

Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash. A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others (“Meek and Lowly of Heart,” General Conference, April 2018).

So when properly understood, faith and humility are really two sides of the same coin. We trust God because we recognize His supremacy. When we choose to submit our will to His, we are motivated to act. We move forward with disciplined confidence, not with hubris or cockiness, but also without faintheartedness or timidity.

Today, I will strive for a humble faith. I will strive for a perfect fusion of these two Christlike attributes, knowing that true faith cannot exist without true humility, and vice versa.

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2 Responses to What is the Relationship Between Faith and Humility?

  1. Aaron Roome Gmail says:

    Thanks Paul. I really like this thought. Thinking about another Paul saying, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”…in this short phrase he teaches us of the power that comes from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ while also humbly acknowledging the source of that power/strength.

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  2. Paul Anderson says:

    Thanks for the comment, Aaron. For me, this is a very useful way to think about these two gospel principles. If It think I have faith but I’m not humble, then it’s not really faith. If I think I’m humble but I don’t have faith, then it’s not true humility.
    I love the quote from the Apostle Paul. Confident and yet aware of his own limitations simultaneously.

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