Humility has been on my mind since Christmas. It’s not usually a topic I think about, but I felt like it was highlighted during the holiday. Usually during Christmas I think about the joy around Jesus’ birth or the thankfulness we have for the gift of His birth, but this year Jesus wanted to show me something about humility.
Jesus left heaven for earth.
When Jesus was born, God became man. That thought stops me in my tracks. The Maker of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the Omniscient One decided to take the form of a man. What humility! In Philippians 2:6-7, Paul tells us, “Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.”
If the fact that He decided to become man isn’t humbling enough, the event of His birth couldn’t be any more humble. Jesus was born to an insignificant teenage girl who would forever be the talk of the town. A virgin girl, betrothed to a man, mysteriously becomes pregnant — you can’t tell me people didn’t judge her when they saw her. Probably whispering derogatory names about her as she passed them in the market. And then there was his actual birthday where He arrived not in the halls of a palace or in any sort of royal manner, but in a barn. A dirty, smelly barn with a food trough as a bassinet.
Jesus hung out with the outcasts of society.
Jesus’ birth was certainly a humble one, and His life carried the very same theme. The examples found in the Gospels are numerous. Jesus hung out with the types of people that everyone else hated or avoided. There were the despised tax collectors who swindled money from people for their own profit. There were the “promiscuous” women, one of whom was caught in the middle of the act of adultery, and still Jesus didn’t condemn her. He sat with the most pious religious people, who were convinced they were right and everyone else was wrong. There were the physically disabled, lame and “unclean” of society — all of whom Jesus interacted with and even touched! Interacting with just one of these people would make yourself an outcast, but Jesus didn’t care. These were the people He came to love and save.
Jesus served his disciples.
As a leader, He didn’t just teach humility among His disciples. He lived it. The night Jesus would be arrested, He chose to teach on this very topic, and then got down and washed the disciples’ feet to solidify the lesson. It seems fitting as we get closer to Easter that humility continues to be on my heart, because as much as His birth exemplified humility, so did His death. They killed Jesus like a common criminal, hung between two thieves. Naked, bloodied, beaten and unrecognizable, exposed for anyone and everyone to see.
His life from birth to death showed a type of humility that was rooted in a deep love for His people. That’s exactly why He did it and why we are called to that same kind of life. We are called to live lives of unusual humility — to lovingly serve others and bring glory to God.
The world doesn’t celebrate humility. The world wants to build its own kingdom, fulfill its own self-centered goals and dreams. Humility demands that others are more important, and this isn’t a popular thought. Humility is the perfect vehicle to show the love of God because that’s how Jesus did it. He didn’t come to rule on an earthly throne, but came to serve. Jesus confirms this in Matthew 20:28, “For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others and to give my life as a ransom for many.” It propels us on to good works because we understand we aren’t here to build our own personal kingdom, but we’re made to further the Kingdom of God.
As Christians, we are called to a life of humility because humility is needed in community.
Humility means willingly putting others ahead of ourselves, and it has us ask the question, “What can I do for you?” We are part of a larger Body, a body with many parts. Each one of us is necessary and needed, but what we do or don’t do affects the other parts. If all we are doing is serving ourselves, other parts are being neglected and missing out on our gifts and talents.
As singles, humility will help cultivate healthy relationships because it takes a constant decision to choose to love God and to love others more than we love ourselves. It doesn’t come easy, but as we continue to follow Jesus, we’ll become more like Him: living lives of unusual humility.