By Kirk Roberts, Elder
Be Yoked to Christ’s Humility
It was on Holy Thursday and Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. As he washed the disciples’ feet, Jesus said that the greatest person in the Kingdom of God is the humble servant. Jesus took the towel of a servant girl and washed the disciples’ feet. The big disciple, Peter, said, “No, no, no. It is not right for you, our master, to wash my feet.” Jesus said to Peter, “If I cannot wash your feet, you cannot be my disciple.” Peter said, “Wash all of me. My feet, my legs, my heart. Wash all of me that I may be your humble disciple and do what you are doing.” And what was Jesus doing? Doing the job of a servant girl. On his knees, washing and wiping his disciples’ feet. Who had ever heard of such a thing from a master? Who had ever heard of such a thing from a king?
And this issue of focus is core to one of the greatest testimonies on the life of Christ in all of scripture, from the Apostle Paul who went from persecutor to servant follower after he was confronted by the risen Christ:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he 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 a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
So how do we “achieve” humility? It’s a trick question, isn’t it?
It’s what makes humility so difficult to define. Because when we’re talking about achieving we’re back to “doing”. That doesn’t mean we are off the hook, where we can call it futile, give up and give in to a life of pride. Just think about what Paul is saying. If we have:
- Any encouragement from being united with Christ
- Any comfort from His love
- Any fellowship with the Holy Spirit
- Any tenderness and compassion
Then we should:
- Be like-minded
- Have the same love
- Be one in spirit and purpose
- 3, being “in humility” literally means “lowliness of mind” or as has been said by Eugene Peterson: “insight into one’s own insignificance”. And then v. 4 takes it further, removing focus from us altogether, and putting it on others. Paul uses this same word in the next chapter where he literally describes where we rank as humans today vs. where we will rank:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Same root describes our state, and humility is that recognition or the process where we acknowledge that we are not where God intends us to be! All that led me finally to the realization that I’m looking at humility from the wrong perspective. It is not something I can achieve (doing). But it is something that God does in me, in us, if we do have that same attitude as Christ.
So, if humility is not something we “achieve”, not a focus of our doing – and Paul then goes on to tell us to take on this attitude of Christ Jesus. Then we need to again understand how Jesus views humility. If we try to establish our own glory, even in humility, it will turn out to be empty, worthless, vain. But if we are taking on the attitude of Christ, where He emptied himself not of His divine nature (for that was impossible) but of those glories, we will empty ourselves of any false claims to glory and praise from man. And it is there, when we are humble (being) that we have:
- Encouragement from being united with Christ
- Comfort from His love
- Fellowship with His Spirit
- Tenderness and compassion
And these words from Jesus never ring more true: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
Jesus was not compelled to do any of it. He willingly lowered himself in his birth, in his ministry, in his death. No one took his life from him. He freely laid down his own life. Others did not have the chance to humble him; he humbled himself. I heard a pastor once say: (when describing Jesus as the “second Adam”)
“It had to be so. The Second Adam had to undo the damage caused by the first. The first disobeyed because he wanted to know what God knew, to be like God, to exalt himself over God. He was bitten by the Serpent, and injected with the deadly venom of Pride. The antidote, the anti-venom could only be humility. The foot-washing, donkey-riding New Adam would crush the head of the deadly serpent by means of loving, humble obedience.”
Part of understanding Jesus’ character of humility is for me to realize…
I am that first Adam!
And until I stop trying to “accomplish humility” to “live up to a standard” I will continue to fall like that first Adam did. Maybe none have summarized what that needs to look like better than CS Lewis in Mere Christianity:
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
So as we started with yesterday, and we continue to look at the character of Jesus as an example to live our lives every day, close your mind and read again…
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
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