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Article 6

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Humility

 

 

 

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The followers of Christ will have meekness as part of their character. They do this because Jesus was meek. He is the example for them to follow. Throughout his life, Jesus demonstrated the true spirit of lowliness. Despite Jesus having been born to be a king, he was always showed lowliness in his heart. He put others before himself by serving and helping them first.

 Jesus: "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light"

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

So here is a picture of the greatest man who ever lived revealing his gentleness and humbleness of heart. If Jesus can be a servant to others, then his followers will want to do the same. It doesn’t matter what their position is in life, they will strive to put others before themselves. Sometimes this may involve performing what may be considered degrading tasks – but this is okay, as they go out of their way for others around them. Christians want to do this as they know they are really doing this service for their master – Jesus.

Death of the past life and start of the new life

The Bible has a principle which relates to humility. This principle revolves around the idea that Jesus has to suffer before he was raised from the dead (in a position of power).

The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 2 Timothy 2:11-12

and also…

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6:8

When a disciple of Jesus gets baptised in water he goes under the water and then rises up out of it a new man/woman. It is like he has buried the old person and been reborn. It is like they were buried with Jesus in his death; and rising up out of the water is like Jesus resurrection from the tomb. Ofcourse this is symbolic – it is not as if the disciple really dies.  The symbolism is that the old way of life has been stopped and put to death. The disciple no longer lives his life according to his own desires and wishes but rather lives his life to please God.

To make this change in his/her life requires humility. It involves putting to death our natural desires. In other words, excluding the need to satisfy ourselves first; the objective to be above others; the desire for self-fulfilment. If we put God first and eliminate our own natural desires then we are living the life of a true Christian.

“Me second, others first”

As Christians live their lives, they make themselves lowly on a daily basis. From a practical point of view this requires us to take second or last place instead of wanting to be the first. This type of lifestyle requires us to put other people’s interests ahead of our own. It requires us to exercise self-sacrifice – we don’t get the things we want in favour of someone else.

Criticism - a test of our humility

Suppose someone gives you praise for something good you did. Maybe you gave a presentation and a member of the audience came up to you afterwards and told you how good they thought it was. In response, you say that it wasn‘t that good and not really worth people’s attention. In other words, you try to be humble about it. But what happens if someone else comes up and says that your presentation wasn’t very good  and that it wasn’t worth their attention? How do you react to this second person – do you agree with them or do you get angry and resent their comments. If you do react in this way to the second person then it proves that you really are not as humble as you would think (and how you presented yourself to the first person).

So, another aspect of humility is that it means accepting criticism or even punishment patiently. Whether or not the follower of Jesus deserves this criticism, they must accept it. The reason for this way of thinking is that Jesus did the same:

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

and also…

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21

Real humility?

A man or woman who is truly humble should be willing for others to treat him in the way he says he deserves. We need to take care that we don’t - tell everyone we are willing to take the lowest place so that others will notice it. In other words, tell everyone we want the lowest most humble place but then when we are actually offered it, we complain that no one appreciates us!

Where humility comes from

So how do we become humble? A man (woman) becomes humble by realising how great God is.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

Humility comes from reverence. We get this reverence when we realise who God is, what He has done in the past, what He is doing currently and what He has planned for the future. Our humility comes from recognising the utter greatness of God who has created everything in existence. We bow in the presence of the great superiority of God. This is how we become humble.

Assessment of ourselves

Personally, we can become humble when we have a long, hard, look at ourselves. We need to see ourselves as God sees us. He knows us completely, seeing everything including those things hidden from others.  

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

God can see inside us and knows all our inner motivations. We may take a job because we are driven by greed for the higher salary. God can see this whereas others may not. When we realise what God can see we ought to be humbled.

The following words are a description of a person with no humility:

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:9-18

These words describe someone with no humility. They should make us want to change – to be more humble. So that we are willing to do anything He wants us to do, happy to do things for others no matter how small they may seem, being able to do important things without letting those things make us feel self-important.

Helping others with humility

Paul talks about restoring those believers who have made bad choices in life:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

The spirit of gentleness spoken of here is referring to true humility. It is telling us that the other person’s failure should make us humble. The other person’s failure should show to us how fragile we all are. Failure usually happens when a person’s weakness is exposed to a period of opportunity. They suddenly find themselves in a situation where they can carry out something which they know is wrong. We are warned to be careful as we may also be tempted.

When we see the believer’s failure we need to humble ourselves and show love by desiring the other believer’s good above all else - help him to overcome his weaknesses. To be angry with the believer and his failure, is not being humble and is not showing a spirit of gentleness.

Conclusion

When we look at the meekness of Christ, we see that humility is not a sign of weakness. Rather it is the inclination to serve in small things and also in great things, but always without thought for becoming well known and celebrated for what you have done. Humility is unconscious meekness, where you are so deeply involved in what you are doing that you are not worried about your reputation.

Jesus humbled himself to the point of being a servant:

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.  Philippians 2: 5-7

This is the example for us.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 March 2015