Name the most important, most powerful position you can think of among the world’s top people. President of the U.S.? The richest man in the world? The world’s most popular entertainment figure? Imagine them giving up all that they have and the position they enjoy to live in a run-down apartment in one of the most dangerous poverty areas. How hard would that be?
Such a change of lifestyle doesn’t even come close to what Jesus did. He is God. He enjoys all the glories of heaven. But he gave up his divine position and stepped down to become a lowly human being — a poor man from a podunk town. Even further, he suffered the most horrible torture and death, as an innocent man, in one of the greatest wrongs of all time. On top of that, he bore the sins of mankind on his shoulders.
Jesus is the very definition of humility. The dictionary’s entry is dry next to Jesus’ demonstration of it.
You and I regularly get tripped up by pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. We think we know it all. Our competitive nature leads us to make ridiculous comparisons so we’ll look better than the next guy. We’ve got to be more pumped, more beautiful, more intelligent, more everything or something than the next person.
And humility flies out the window. Lowliness gets left in the dust. The shoe does a fine job of trampling meekness in the ground.
The Lord Jesus is no milquetoast. He’s no patsy. He fully knows the foibles and follies of man. But he refused to play the game. He didn’t need to play it. He knew where he had come from, why he had come to earth, and where he was headed. (Read John 13.)
The saints of God have been transformed into his image. They have been created as transcendent beings. Holiness is the air they breathe. Devotion to God’s will is their hallmark.
They have surrendered attempts to prove their worth. They confess that the blood of Jesus cleanses them of sin. They admit to their unworthiness. Peter’s confession before the power of Jesus is also theirs: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” The tax collector’s prayer is found on their lips: “God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!” Luke 18.13. They take up Paul’s trustworthy saying: “‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them!” 1 Timothy 1.15.
Humility starts here, applying Romans 3.23 to self: I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Humility asks a question that so many saints asked: Who am I, that I should be noticed by the Almighty God, to be redeemed by his Son, to be inhabited by his Spirit, to be a recipient of his grace and his wisdom?
Humility sprouts under the shadow of the Cross. If Jesus did this, how can I put on airs, pretend to be someone I am not, puff out my chest at the world, and look down my nose at a creature of the eternal God?
So let me study the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as my model for humility.
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! Philippians 2.3-8.