What is the Difference Between Being Humble and Being a Doormat?


Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3-4 that we should count others more significant than ourselves. He presses the point further by saying that we should not only look to our own interests, but to the interests of others. This, in his view, is what it means to have the mind of Christ.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

Suppose you were reading Paul’s passage through the lens of an abused wife–a wife who wants to be humble, but does not want to be abused.

  • Does humility mean letting a man (or anyone) trample all over you?
  • What’s the difference between being humble and being a doormat?1
  • Does this woman have any rights?
  • Is she wrong to look to her own interests as a matter of mental and physical self-preservation?

If you live with an abusive or mean person, there must be another way of thinking about laying aside your rights while maintaining the integrity of the Gospel. This is a layered problem that must be navigated biblically in order to preserve the safety of the wife, while seeking to restore the abusive husband, and to honor God and His Word.

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