Humility is the quality of being humble. Humble means to show a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. Furthermore it means to be meek, respectful, submissive, self-effacing, or the opposite of being prideful or overbearing. There is a lot to unpack about this quality so let us start with how we might personally fit into the picture. Who wants to show a modest to low estimate of their importance? Isn’t that against our very nature? In fact we tend to despise those who appear to be spineless, weak or without conviction. The same can be said about being meek or submissive. In the animal kingdom such individuals are killed by predators or even their own kind because they are unworthy of carrying the necessary genes for the continuation of their species.
By appearance humility would not seem to be a very high and noble quality, yet this is the quality that was portrayed by Christ: “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on the cross!” Philippians 2:6-8
Therefore rather than this lowly perception of humility we should be willing to take on the likeness of Christ. He was willing to wash the feet of those who were His servants and followers. Jesus knew that He had come from God and was returning to God so he prepared His disciples by setting an example for them. One evening just before the Passover Festival Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. As the evening meal was in progress with His disciples He got up and started washing the feet of His disciples. As the scripture states:
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:12-17
These were the recollection of John, who was there with Christ sharing the evening meal. John recorded this episode in his gospel from firsthand knowledge. Jesus actually washed his feet showing John and the rest of His disciples an example of humility. He specifically stated that they (the disciples) should do the same for others as He had done for them. If humility was a quality that Christ thought more befitting of His followers, then what should that tell us? Apostle Paul repeated the same sentiment in a letter to the Roman believers:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3
There is so much about us that is guided by our selfish desires to be better than others, to have more than others, to be the first in line or to simply think more highly of ourselves than we should. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be excellent, to desire doing good, to strive for perfection or to achieve personal goals, but as we do so… it should not be at the expense of others. If the Spirit of Christ is in you there should be a desire to place the needs of others out front. If you are well blessed… you should be willing to share what you have so others less fortunate can gain. For what good is it to gain the entire world and lose your immortal soul? What good would it be to gain so much personally and alienate the people closest to you?
As I ponder this trait it would appear that this would be one that we would want to emanate from our hearts. It is one of those things that would appear to fall under human decency or brotherly/sisterly kindness. We shouldn’t need scripture to teach us about decency. Just practically speaking if the entire world was kind and decent it could self-sustain forever, but if the entire world was unkind and indecent it could not sustain even for a short while. Even if there were no God… then shouldn’t sustaining human life, as we know it, be a common goal among human beings? Why is it that we as a collective body choose the low road over being kind and showing human decency? Could it be that our basic nature is not that of high morals and values, but instead to gain no matter what the cost? I’m not buying that!
I realize that godliness must be taught. I know that an empty field would grow wild untamed weeds if it were not maintained by an external force. I realize that if children are not taught morals and values they will not inherit them. To me that reveals a mystery. A world without godliness is war and chaos. A world with God is peace, harmony, decency and yes, humility. That being the case then why would man place himself at enmity with God? Could there be other forces at hand compelling mankind to do so?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
I can see how it would be hard to be humble when you are constantly at battle with your fellow human beings and also against spiritual forces from the heavenly realms. But on the other hand we do not have to face this this internal battle alone. For we have the power that is God on our side and there is no greater ally.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
Be humble my friends… not as the world shows it, but the kind of peace and humility that is in Christ, our Lord and Savior. For this you will be greatly rewarded in His kingdom. Selah!