Thursday, December 1, 2011

From Pride to Humility: Humility Defined

The Attribute of Humility

1. Our Greatest Example - Jesus Christ

As we seek to turn from our pride and embrace humility, we must look to the greatest example of humility. The Lord Jesus is the only man who ever lived a life in complete humility. He always was in submission to the will of God. He never disobeyed or sinned. He lived a life without pride. Let’s take a look at three passages that demonstrate Christ’s humility. The first describes His humility in His mortality, the second shows His humility in His mentoring, and the third shows His humility in His modeling.

Philippians 2:6-8 - "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." 

Jesus showed humility in His Mortality. We see this in the fact that, although He is God, He emptied Himself. The phrase we read in the NKJ ‘made Himself no reputation’ means “to make low, to reduce to a plain, to bring into a humble condition.” Think about the significance of that. God Almighty, in the person of Jesus, lowered Himself to the plain of humanity. He bought Himself down to our level. He never stopped being God, but He took on flesh and blood. He took on the appearance of a man. But His humility doesn’t stop there. Christ’s humility extends to the point of death, even the death of the cross. He was obedient even to the point of death in the most humiliating way.

Mark 10:43-45 - "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." 

Jesus showed humility in His Mentoring. Here in Mark 10 we find the disciples quarreling over who would be the greatest. James and John came to Jesus with a special request. They asked that one sit on the right hand and the other on the left hand of Christ in His glory. But the other disciples didn’t like this. I have a suspicion that the other disciples were displeased because they didn’t think to ask this of Jesus first.

But here we see Jesus, bringing the disciples together to teach them something about Himself. Jesus teaches here that the way the world operates is different from the way followers of Jesus are to operate. The rulers of the Gentiles, Jesus teaches, lord their authority over their subjects. But the follower of Jesus is different. Among Christ’s followers, the greatest is the one who is the servant and slave to all. To Jesus disciples, greatness is serving. This is exactly why Jesus came. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

John 13:3-5 - "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." 

Jesus showed humility in His Modeling. In John 13 we see Jesus setting a tangible example for His disciples. In these verses we see Mark 10:45 demonstrated. Jesus came to serve. Washing the disciples feet was something that a slave or servant would do. It was not fitting for a Rabbi or Teacher of the law. It certainly wasn’t something that you would see the Pharisees doing. But Jesus came to serve. I like verse 15 – “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” This example is in stark contrast to the way we see the disciples treating each other in Mark 10:41.

Since Almighty God was willing to stoop so low and serve mankind in life and in death, we should, therefore, be willing to place ourselves below others. Humility is a funny thing. Everyone says that they have it, but few want to actually demonstrate it. On the other hand, no one wants to admit they have pride, but everyone demonstrates it. Let’s consider some other real-life examples of humility from the pages of Scripture.

2. Other Biblical Examples

Abraham – Genesis 13 – Abraham’s humility was a peacemaking agent. Abraham considered Lot before himself. God blessed Abraham’s humility. Abraham’s humility is also seen in his worship.

Moses – Numbers 12 – Moses’ humility is seen in his non-response to Aaron and Miriam. God defended Moses because of his humility. Moses’ humility is seen in his compassion and forgiveness.

John the Baptist – Luke 3:16 – John’s humility is seen in his deflecting praise toward Christ. It is seen in his downplaying his own role. It is seen in a proper view of self.

Mary – Luke 1:38, 46, 48 – Mary’s humility is seen in her submission to the word of the Lord. Her humility magnified the Lord. Her humility acknowledged the blessing of the Lord.

Publican – Luke 18:13 – Humility here is seen in repentance.

Paul – Acts 20:18-19 – Paul’s lifestyle among the Ephesians modeled humility. He served them, had compassion and care for them, and taught them from house to house.

Romans 11:33-36 – Paul shows us his humility by acknowledging who the Lord is and what the Lord has done.

3. Humility Defined

a. The mindset of Christ (a servant’s mindset): a focus on God and others, a pursuit of the recognition and exaltation of God, and a desire to glorify and please God in all things and by all things He has given.

b. The Theocentric Mindset – Low & Sober-Minded - All things are from God; through God; to God; for God

Humble people…
  1. Are focused on God and others, not self 
  2. Have no need to be recognized or approved 
  3. Have no need to elevate self, knowing that they have been forgiven and that God’s love has been undeservedly and irrevocably set on them 
  4. Have a goal to elevate God and encourage others 
  5. “No longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)

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