We live in an age when Christians have moved from one extreme of being looked at as nonentities and fanatics to the other extreme of behaving like celebrities. Some pastors move around with security and convoys, completely inaccessible to the flock they are to shepherd. For many, it is an abomination to do menial jobs and to serve (apart from within the four walls of the church and in the view of the pastor, of course). We have allowed one thing which our God hates to take us over – pride.
Pride is defined by the dictionary as a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. I find this statement, “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from … the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated” most interesting because a lot of our pride as Christians comes from our association with Christ, ironically. We feel that we are better than unbelievers forgetting that it is simply by grace that we were able to both hear and believe the gospel of Christ.
Why I said that it is an irony is because the Person whose association makes us feel proud hates pride and is Himself the embodiment of humility which is the opposite of pride.
According to the Collins Dictionary, “a humble person is not proud and does not believe that they are better than other people.” While some dictionaries define humility as having a low opinion of oneself, I don’t think that is what God expects of us, either. We are enjoined in scriptures to not think too highly of ourselves and to think of others as being better than ourselves.
Sometimes, we learn more from examples/illustrations than from technicalities of definitions, etc. So, let’s just look at our King and Example, Jesus to see what it means to be humble with a view to following in His steps.
1. Humble birth conditions:
The King of the universe was born in a stall (a structure that houses farm animals) and didn’t have a bed, so He was put in a manger to sleep. A manger is a box or trough in a stable or barn from which horses or cattle eat. [show picture] No ‘effizzi’, no paparazzi. There was no need to show His royalty off.
Question: Do you make a conscious effort to show off who you are (even in Christ) and/or what you own or do you choose to keep things simple and not draw attention to yourself? Ministers of the gospel, do you insist on certain grades of hotels, etc. when you are invited out-of-town to minister?
2. Submitting to His earthly parents:
After the incident when Jesus stayed back in Jerusalem and was found after a few days, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was [habitually] obedient to them” (Luke 2:51 AMPC). It didn’t matter that He was God, the Son. Even His response to Mary at the wedding in Cana showed His submission because despite initially protesting that it wasn’t yet time for His ministry to begin in earnest, He did perform the miracle at her bidding.
Question: Do you submit yourself to instituted authority in the land, at your local assembly, at work, at school and/or at home?
Jesus, the master and teacher, washed the dirty feet of his disciples. In response to a request for seats of honour, He said,
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 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.”
(Matthew 20:25-28 NLT)
In Matthew 23, Jesus talks about the prideful desire to be given special seats of honour at meetings and addressed in a special way, saying that we should not desire these. He concluded with the words, “The greatest among you must be a servant.” (v.11)
Question: Do you serve others in whatever capacity they need service? Is there any work you wouldn’t do because it’s ‘beneath you’?
In Matthew 19, children were brought to Jesus for Him to lay His hands on them and pray for them but His disciples rebuked (scolded) their parents for doing that. They put themselves in a position to determine who had access to Jesus. Sound familiar? Jesus, however, scolded the disciples and encouraged the children to be brought to Him. He didn’t select only particular people that could have access to Him but was accessible to all that needed (a touch from) God.
Question: Can any and everyone reach you in their search for God’s arms?
5. Submitting to the shame of the cross:
The ultimate show of humility was His death on the cross. Crucifixion was arguably the most shameful way to die in the first century. It was originally reserved exclusively for slaves and was considered one of the most humiliating and shameful things a person could ever endure, which was its aim. It was so humiliating that Roman citizens were only crucified for grave offenses, like treason, and even these crucifixions were not common. So for the King of kings to submit Himself to this form of death undeserving of it but for the sake of His own creation that did not have any regard for Him is the epitome of humility.
Question: Are you submitted to God’s will (purpose) for your life or insisting on your own personal dreams?
As we celebrate Jesus, may we learn from His incredible humility and allow the Holy Spirit to mature us in the fruit of the spirit that is meekness, which the Amplified Classic translation expands as “(meekness, humility)”.