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Humility

Lessons from Jesus’ Life and Teaching

Humility begins with the worship of God as our Creator.

Mar 18, 2021

The Christian life is a life of selflessness. It starts with the recognition that pride has destroyed our relationship with God, but through Christ we can humble ourselves and live our lives in total dependence upon our Creator. God created and sustains all things for His own pleasure (Revelation 4:10-11), but we get to enjoy the blessings that God gives when we humbly acknowledge our place as creatures and His place as our Creator. Thus, humility begins with the worship of God as our Creator.

The life of a disciple, which is showcased after the life of our master Jesus, should be a life of humility. Paul commands the Philippian church to, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). A disciple is to live a humble life, serving Christ and others before serving themselves. The goal here is not to think less of yourself but think of yourself less, as we become sensitive to needs of others more than our own. The following picture of a humble man painted by C.S Lewis in his classic book, Mere Christianity, illustrates this point:

“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man, he will be what most people will call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”1C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Harpercollins Publishers, 2017), 128.

Jesus’ Example

Since the goal of Christian life is Christlikeness, our example and standard come from the humble life of Christ, from His birth to the point of His death. No one ever humbled himself more than Christ did through His life and death. Jesus, who deserved every praise and entitlement as Creator and ruler of this world, lived a life of humility, serving others, and died a humiliating death. In the profound verses of Philippians 2:5-11, Paul magnifies the humility of Christ, which should lead us to imitate Jesus’ example.2Tony Merida et al., Exalting Jesus in Philippians (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016), 91. By demoting Himself to humanity from the royal throne and giving away some of His privileges to be obedient to His Father’s will, Christ lived a perfect life of humility that God promises to exalt throughout the Scripture, leaving His disciples a perfect example to follow and be exalted like Him.

Jesus’ Teaching

Jesus not only showcased humility with His humanity, He also taught on the topic of humility. He often reminded the proud Pharisees that it is the one that serves humbly that will be the greatest in the Kingdom (Matthew 23:11; Luke 14:1-11; 18:14).  After washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus tells the disciples to follow the same path of humility (John 13:14). He put humility first again when the disciples were disputing who among them would be the greatest. “Jesus said, ‘But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.’” (Luke 22:26-27)

Jesus’ life and teaching both indicate that those following Him should practice humility. A humble life is not based on what we deserve or what we think we deserve, but on compassion, love, and sensitivity towards others.

That said, how do we foster a life of humility? Looking at Jesus’ life and teaching, here are a few ways one can practice humility.

Approach the worship of God humbly. Humility begins with worship of God. One of the ways we know we lack humility is when we feel entitled, especially with worship. “God owes me this,” instead of, “I don’t deserve this from God” is an attitude of a prideful heart. Approach the worship of God—praying, singing, reading God’s Word—with the mindset that you don’t have it together and you need God. Be thankful that you have God’s presence and grace available to you. God does not owe us; He loves us enough to freely give us His grace. When we worship God in this humble manner, we can enjoy life and all the blessings of this life for what they are: the gift of God.

Serve others humbly. When we think of ourselves less and become more sensitive to others, we mirror our humble Savior Jesus Christ. For example, when you go to church, think of how you can serve others. Be more sensitive towards their needs. We do this when we become Christians that not only receive encouragement in Christ, but also give encouragement in Christ. We do this when we become Christians that not only are comforted by the love of Christ, but also comfort others by the love of Christ. We do this when we become Christians that not only have received affection and mercy in Christ, but also are loving enough to share the same affection and mercy with each other.

 Look at Christ to find strength to humble ourselves.  Jesus deserved to get royal treatment while on earth, but He forsook it all. Jesus was born in a manger to a carpenter’s family, never owned land or property, often borrowed food to eat and places to stay, always served others wherever He went, and died a humiliating death although innocent. Nothing can give us more motivation and strength to exercise humility than looking at the life of Christ, especially on the cross, as the Creator of the world humbly submitted Himself to His Father’s will.

The humility of Jesus was so that we who are prideful may receive forgiveness for our selfish rebellion against God. Upon encountering God, we may humble ourselves to live our life to glorify Him, as we put our faith and trust in the fact that Jesus is Lord. May the humility of our Lord reflect upon us His disciples in such a manner that, “He must increase, I must decrease,” (John 3:30) will be the pattern of our lives.