“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges: he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8.
We live in an era when might is right—we admire those who seem to be self-sufficient and don’t need anyone. Humility has had a lot of bad press as a virtue. It’s seen as groveling and a sign of weakness. But not so with Jesus. Listen to what Jesus said: “…Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48). He turned the view of that day upside down. Think for a moment how Jesus showed humility. God, His Father, chose the humblest of circumstances for His birth. He was born of Mary and Joseph, two average people without wealth, social standing, or prominence of any kind. They had to find room to stay the night so Mary could give birth, as there was no room for them in Bethlehem.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus called people to follow Him. They were ordinary people without much in the way of achievements or social status either. He called a group of ordinary people around Him and concentrated on teaching and equipping them. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A servant had virtually no rights. A servant was a person with no privileges, and Jesus stepped down into that position. Remarkable, isn’t it? He accepted hospitality from people throughout His life. Even so, listen to what Jesus often told His disciples: “…For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14). Jesus turned our idea of greatness on its head. Jesus came into our world to introduce humility. He was humility incarnate.
We read that one night at the Passover Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with a towel. Peter had some difficulty with this experience. So Jesus said, “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master.” (John 13: 14-16). Humility is mentioned frequently in scripture. “The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15).
To be humble means to recognize we are not self-sufficient, rather that we depend on God for all we need. We should be humbly thankful for our salvation, our hope, our strengths and abilities.
- Read Philippians 2:3-4 . How do these verses describe humility? (not being selfish or trying to impress, thinking of others, taking an interest in others) Why is it hard for us not to think about ourselves first?
- What can we do this week to be thankful for what God is doing in our lives?