I could write several posts on this topic of humility because it plays itself out in so many ways. But really I just want to share one aspect about what’s continually been brought up in my life recently and one passage in the Bible that almost knocked me out of my chair when I came across it. I’ve had an opportunity to meet with a sweet mentor weekly to discuss this subject and walk through a book by C.J. Mahaney called “Humility.” My hope is that this might lead you to understand humility better in light of a relationship with Christ and walking through life in your community.
It is important to have a right view of true biblical humility. The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is our natural tendency and if you argue that it isn’t, then you have just proved that statement to be true (haha)! We must understand that true humility is found in the very essence of Jesus. Our motivation to be humble should stem from the fact that Jesus humbled himself by leaving His glorious throne and stooping down to this earth. He came down to seek and save lost sinners. He came down not to be served, but to serve, even to the point of death on our behalf. Philippians 2 lays it out perfectly for us. So the motivation to be humble and set apart from what culture says should be based on making much of the supremacy of Christ. If my motivation to be humble is to actually point others to myself so they want more of my qualities, I’ve missed the point and I’ve actually disguised humility with pride- the very opposite of what I thought I was pursuing. This is the best advice I’ve received to this day from a great friend regarding discipleship–my last hope should be for someone to say “I want to be more like her” and my greatest hope should be for someone to say “I want to be like Christ”. For believers, it is our calling to elevate Jesus, not ourselves. It isn’t my job to walk through this life and crave for others to notice ME or see my achievements. It is my job to desperately seek out people with the hope that they might come to know Christ and His glory. This all relates to humility.
Humility and the exaltation of Christ go hand in hand. I cannot be humble without pointing others to Jesus and I cannot exalt Christ without being humble. I need to confess that God has exposed this wickedness in my own heart, that I want praise and recognition although I was not designed for that. The world will tell you otherwise– “go chase your dreams, go indulge in whatever makes you happy. After all, this life is all there is, so spend it on your desires and make much of your own name.” The world defines this as true greatness, but Jesus redefines greatness. I came across this passage and it struck me so hard.
Mark 10:35-37- James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.“
James and John wanted to share the prominent place with Jesus where only He belongs. They wanted to steal glory from Jesus and sulk in self-glory. They thought this was true greatness- to be elevated themselves and to use Jesus as a means to that end. Jesus responds by turning the definition of greatness around. He doesn’t take greatness away, he just reorients it. He aligns greatness with humility and looks at it with a Kingdom-minded, eternal perspective, not a temporary, self-focused one. In Mark 10:43-44 he says, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” This wrecks culture’s idea of greatness. I was mind blown because I haven’t been seeking this kind of greatness. The beauty of this redefinition of greatness is that we actually receive more joy through exalting Christ than we do ourselves or anything else because we were created for that reason. When God is most glorified, we are most satisfied because He is of the most value. We won’t find fullness of joy in chasing pride, but we will find fullness of joy in humbly serving others for the glory of Christ alone. I want to leave you with an encouraging verse that should motivate us to put others’ needs ahead of our own…
2 Corinthians 8:9- “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Although we can never stoop down to the level that Christ did on our behalf, it is our call to “become poor” for others’ sake, so that it points to Christ and they might become rich through His saving work. That’s the essence and purpose of humility. God knows I have a LONG way to get there.