Humble yourselves

The Standard February 4, 2021

How many times have you heard the expression “Pride goeth before a fall?” The King James version says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”(Proverbs 16:18)  All of us know how unpleasant it can be to spend much time with someone who loves to toot their own horn and who believes in reminding the world of their many contributions to it. On the other hand, we have friends who go about their daily work diligently and quietly, not shining a light on them when they do good deeds.

Throughout the gospels we see Jesus deflecting attention away from himself and towards God the Father. He did this while modeling servant leadership, an unusual idea, to his followers. In chapters 12 and 13 of the Gospel of John we read of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a young donkey and later, washing the disciples’ feet. Both of these actions did not fit the expectations for a rabbi or a prominent religious leader. Jewish people would have expected their Messiah to arrive on a mighty war horse. They certainly would not have imagined he would act as a lowly servant, washing the feet of those less esteemed.

As the writers of Community Bible Study’s workbook on the Gospel of John point out, “Jesus’s humility was closely tied to his sense of identity. He knew exactly who he was and why he had come. He was singularly focused on his purpose: to do his Father’s will and bring glory to his Father’s name. Because Jesus understood his own identity, he didn’t need validation from other people. He sought no personal glory, attention, or applause, giving us a model of humility that’s rooted in a solid sense of identity.”

Jesus had every right to demand glory and attention, but he did not. Since our greatest accomplishments dim in comparison to God’s, it makes sense for us to keep these achievements in perspective.  As the Urban Dictionary puts it, we’re not “all that.” We are beloved children of God, but all thanks for that goes to God and not to us. Jesus was the living embodiment of humility. Certainly, we should aspire to be the same.

“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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2: 3-11)

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