What comes to mind when you hear the word humility?
In Philippians 2.6-8, the apostle Paul defined humility by pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ:
…who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, 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…
The humility of Jesus is why Paul willingly suffered the loss of all things and considered them to be rubbish.
The humility of Jesus is why Paul passionately declared his desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.
The humility of Jesus is what inspired Paul to write “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The humility of Jesus is why I made living humbly one of my five resolutions*. Living humbly means I will do my best to see things from Jesus’s point of view. It means not being overly impressed by the sense of my own self-importance. It means considering the needs of others as being more important than my own.
I will live humbly by considering others more significant than myself.
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.
This text means more than just being nice to people. This text is beyond extolling the benefits of being courteous or the virtues of being thoughtful. This text is intended to inspire us to follow the example of Jesus Christ by genuinely considering others as more important than ourselves.
Now let’s be honest. This is difficult. In fact, living humbly is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Think about the people you know. Think about the people you work with. Think about the people you live with. Think about the people you worship with. We like to quote the proverb which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another, (Proverbs 27.17), however, we like it more as a principle than a real-life situation. Nevertheless, living humbly demands that the one being sharpened as well as the one doing the sharpening, must consider the other as more important than themselves. To live humbly is put the needs of others above our own.
We all have an agenda. We all want to get our way. We want people to agree with us, to like us, to get along with us. But what happens when your agenda is set aside? What happens when you do not get your way, or people disagree with you? This where living humbly as a principle meets living humbly as a way of life.
- Sometimes living humbly means resisting the temptation to get even. This is a strength we do not have except it is given to us by the Holy Spirit.
- Sometimes living humbly means hearing hard things, then, with the Spirit’s help – as well as the help of trusted friends – taking the time to sort through the verbiage to find the kernel of truth contained in it.
- Sometimes living humbly means admitting you were wrong and asking for forgiveness.
- Sometimes living humbly means being patient with those who test your patience.
- Sometimes living humbly means following Jesus’ example and experiencing the freedom that comes from saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”
In becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, Jesus considered His Father’s agenda to be more important than His own. When Jesus looked at the big picture, He chose to set aside His agenda. He came to do His Father’s will not His own. When we choose to live humbly we must do the same. When we resolve to live humbly we will come to see things from Jesus’ point of view.
I will live humbly by working out our salvation in partnership with like-minded believers.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Given that thinking right will lead to living right, Paul encourages the Philippians to work out their own salvation in the context of Christian community. I cannot live humbly in isolation.
This is why Paul writes, “Let those of us who are mature think this way.” When we resolve to live humbly we will come around to thinking the way Jesus did. After telling the Philippians about the humility of Christ, Paul shares from his own life as an apostle. Paul uses himself an example of someone who sees things from Jesus’ point of view. He encourages as many who consider themselves to be mature to prove it by living up to the level of knowledge they already have about Jesus. And if they happen to disagree with him, he trusts God to work it out.
Paul had every right to command the Philippians to toe the line and do what he said. He didn’t. He chose to live humbly. Rather than pull rank, Paul appealed to them at eye-level. He knew they would wouldn’t see eye-to-eye with him on everything, so he chose to live humbly. He trusted in the strength of their friendship and mutual faith in Christ.
However, sometimes even that will not prevent like-minded believers from disagreeing with one another.
I will live humbly by working out my salvation in partnership with like-minded believers with whom I will disagree.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers,
Sometimes living in community means having to deal with conflict. When the conflict arises between two close friends, an extra measure of humility is required. Since Pride can be an obstacle to reaching resolution, sometimes a third party must intervene and mediate. Where we may convinced we are in the right, Humility is willing to lose the argument, in order to strengthen an existing friendship, or create a new one. Humility accepts the invitation to make the first move toward reconciliation. In any conflict, the one who chooses to live humbly will assume responsibility for initiating the move toward resolution. When we resolve to live humbly we will come to have the same mind which was in Christ Jesus.
I will live humbly by learning to rejoice in the Lord always.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…
Humility finds joy in looking through circumstances to the Lord Jesus Christ. Where Pride desires attention be paid to our woeful condition, Humility presses on to find reason to rejoice. Humility chooses neither to ignore hardship nor deny difficulty. On the contrary, Humility discovers joy by looking at things from the perspective of Jesus Christ. To rejoice in the Lord is to celebrate His triumph over sin and death, guilt and shame, pride and fear. To rejoice in the Lord is to find our satisfaction in Him and Him alone.
To rejoice in the Lord is to discover strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, it is to feed our souls with hope in a world starving for it. It is to renew our minds in a culture that has seemingly lost theirs. It is to discover a courage of heart in the midst of a world where few are brave enough to follow the words of a man who lived, died and rose from the dead. But those who do know with every fiber of their being how deep, how wide, how broad and how high is His love for those who live humbly for His glory.
You think about that.
* My five New Year’s resolutions are: I will live wisely. I will live humbly. I will live repentantly. I will live faithfully. I will live fearlessly.