LIVING IN HUMILITY
The greatness of God is seen by the world in the marvels of creation (Psa. 19:1). The universe is so vast that the human mind cannot comprehend it. Galaxies of stars have been flung out across space, billions of light-years apart. At the same time, each bit of matter in this universe is made up of atoms, so small that the naked eye cannot see them, yet containing hundreds of electrons rotating within them. How great is our God!
But to the disciple of Jesus Christ, the greatness of God is seen, not primarily in these wonders of the universe, but rather in the humility that made the Son of God empty Himself and come in our flesh and identify Himself with our fallen race.
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory," said John the apostle (Jn. 1:14). And we can add - "such glory, that far outshone the glory seen in creation."
The great King of Heaven came and dwelt as one of us in our flesh. And He came, not in a condescending, patronising sort of way, but with real humility, making Himself one with us in every way.
We see the glory of the Lord Jesus in a far greater way in His humility than even in the wonderful miracles that He did.
It is this pathway of humility that the Holy Spirit desires to show us first of all, so that we might learn to walk in it all our days. It is here that we are to follow Jesus primarily.
Before Jesus lived that pure and love-filled life on earth, as a man, He humbled Himself. That was the first step. And that is the first step for us too.
Many thousands of years before Jesus came to earth, God had created an angel called Lucifer who was perfect in wisdom and beauty. Lucifer was appointed by God as the head of the angelic order. But, being lifted up with pride and discontented with his appointed lot, Lucifer sought to go up and to exalt himself (Ezek. 28:11-17; Isa. 14:12-15). Thus he brought sin into God's creation. God cast him down immediately - and he became Satan.
Pride is therefore the root of every sin and evil in this universe.
When Adam sinned, he too became infected with this Satanic pride.
Every child of Adam is now born with this infection.
To redeem man from this poison, Jesus humbled Himself.
As sin originated in the pride of Lucifer, so our redemption originated in the self-humbling of Jesus. We have as much of the mind of Christ as we have of His humility. This is the infallible gauge of spiritual growth.
The very coming of Jesus to earth from the glory of Heaven is in itself a marvelous demonstration of His humility. But we are told further that, even "as a man He humbled Himself" (Phil. 2:8). "Made like His brethren in every respect" (Heb. 2:17), He took His place before God as all other men. He became nothing so that God might be everything. This is true humility.
Worldly glory and greatness are measured by a person's position, wealth, accomplishments, family status, etc. But how different is the glory of God as seen in Jesus Christ!
Jesus was the only person ever born who had the opportunity to choose the family into which he was to be born. None of us had that choice.
Which family did Jesus choose? An unknown carpenter's family from a place called Nazareth, of which town people said, "Can any good come from there?" (Jn. 1:46). Joseph and Mary were so poor that they could not even afford to offer a lamb as a burnt offering to God (cf. Lk. 2:22-24 with Lev. 12:8).
Further, Jesus was the only person ever born, who could choose exactly where he would be born. Having the opportunity to determine the place of His birth, which place did He choose? A cattle food-box in a lowly stable!
Notice further, the family-line that Jesus chose for Himself. Four women are named in the family-tree of Jesus, mentioned in Matthew 1:3-6. The first one, Tamar had a son through committing adultery with her father-in-law, Judah. The second one, Rahab, was a well-known prostitute in Jericho. The third one, Ruth, was a descendant of Moab, who was born as a result of Lot committing adultery with his own daughter. The fourth one was Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, with whom David committed adultery.
Why did Jesus choose such a shameful family-line to come through? So that He could identify Himself totally with Adam's fallen race. There we see His humility. He did not desire any pride of family or genealogy
Jesus identified Himself totally with man. He believed in the essential equality of all human beings, irrespective of race, family, position in life, etc., and became one with the least and lowest in the social strata. He came below all, that He might be the servant of all. It is only the one who gets beneath others who is able to lift them up. And that is how Jesus came.
The Holy Spirit transforms us through the renewal of our mind (Rom. 12:2). It is in our thoughts that the seed of true Christ-like humility is sown. It is not by our actions or by our behaviour before others but rather by our thoughts (when we are by ourselves) that we can ascertain whether we are being transformed into Christlikeness in this area or not - our thoughts concerning ourselves and about how we compare with others.
It is only when we are truly small in our own thoughts, that we can genuinely "regard others as more important than us" (Phil. 2:3), and consider ourselves as "the very least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8).
Jesus always considered Himself as a man to be nothing before His Father. Therefore the glory of the Father was manifested through Him in all its fullness.
Because Jesus took this position of nothingness before the Father, He could joyfully submit to anything that the Father ordered for His life, and obey all the Father's commandments wholeheartedly.
"He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death" (Phil. 2:8).
Total obedience to God is the unmistakable mark of genuine humility. There is no clearer test than this.
For thirty years, Jesus submitted to an imperfect foster-father and mother - because this was His Father's will. He knew far more than Joseph and Mary; and was sinless, unlike them. Yet He submitted to them.
It is not easy for man to submit to those who are intellectually or spiritually inferior to him. But genuine humility has no problem here - for one who has truly seen himself as nothing in God's eyes, has no difficulty in submitting to anyone whom God appoints over him.
Jesus chose a fairly unimpressive profession - that of a carpenter. And when He entered into His public ministry, He had no prefixes or suffixes to His name. He was not `Pastor Jesus.' Much less was he `The Reverend Doctor Jesus!' He never sought nor desired any earthly position or title that would exalt Him above the common people whom He had come to serve. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
When the crowds once flocked after Him, wanting to make Him their king, He quietly slipped away from their midst (Jn. 6:15). He desired to be known only as `the son of man.'
He never sought nor cared for the honour of men. He lived before His Father's face alone, and was quite content to go all through life ignored and despised by men. The Father's approval alone mattered to Him.
Whenever Jesus healed someone or did a miracle, He was keen that no one should know about the healing, for His miracles were acts of compassion done for needy individuals, and not publicity stunts. Even when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead, He gave strict instructions that no one should be told about it (Mk. 5:43). Only after Jesus had left this earth, was the record of His life made public by His apostles.
When He took a basin of water and washed His disciples' feet, on the last night before He was crucified, it was typical of what had been true of His entire life. He had been a servant of all men. He was quick to note that the disciples' feet were dirty and was equally quick to pick up the basin and to do the needful, instead of waiting to see if someone else would do it. That action was symbolic of a lifetime of service to others. Jesus did not wait to be asked to do something. He found out the need and did the needful.
Jesus associated intimately with the lowest strata of society and moved among them as their equal. And yet, although He was sinless and perfect, He never made others feel awkward because of their imperfections. He had no patronizing air about Him when He moved around with His disciples. In fact, He moved so freely with them that they felt free to rebuke Him and even to give Him advice (Mt. 16:22; Mk. 4:38; 9:5).
We see the humility of Jesus in His seeking for the fellowship of His disciples in prayer. In the garden of Gethsemane, He asked Peter, James and John to pray with Him, because His soul was "deeply grieved to the point of death" (Mt. 26:38). Jesus was conscious of the utter weakness of the flesh that He had taken on. That was why He sought their fellowship in prayer.
It is because we are not honest enough to acknowledge our nothingness, that the manifestation of God's power through us is limited. Jesus has shown us the way of humility. It is to acknowledge the weakness of our flesh, and our nothingness as human beings.
Because Jesus humbled Himself, therefore God exalted Him to the highest position in the universe (Phil. 2:9). Those who go the farthest along the way of humility will sit with Jesus on His right and left hand in glory.
All through Jesus' life He kept going down. He came down from Heaven and kept going down, down, down all the way to the cross. Never once did He reverse this direction and seek to go up.
There are only two spirits operating on the earth today. One, the spirit of Satan (Lucifer) urging people to go up - whether it be in the world or in Christendom. The other, the Spirit of Christ leading people to go down like their Master. Like the corn of wheat, Jesus went down, and all His true disciples can be identified unmistakably by this characteristic.
The humility of Jesus is seen in all its brilliance in His death. There never was a more unjust trial than the one Jesus went through. Yet, He submitted to injury, insult, injustice, humiliation and ridicule, in silence. He did not call down curses on His enemies. He neither threatened revenge nor called for angelic assistance. He gave up all His rights as the Son of God.
The `clenched fist' is an appropriate symbol of the human race - signifying both the desire to hold on to one's rights, powers and possessions, as well as the desire to fight back when attacked.
Jesus on the other hand, willingly opened His palms to receive the nails on the cross. His palms were always open, giving, giving and giving. Finally He gave up His own life as well. This is true humility. And this is true `manhood' as God intended it to be.
The disciple of Jesus who wants to manifest the divine nature must be willing to suffer injustice without complaining.
The Bible says, "If you bear patiently with suffering when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and well-pleasing to God. For even to this were you called - it is inseparable from your vocation. For Christ also suffered...leaving you His personal example, so that you should follow on in His footsteps.....when He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; when He was abused and suffered, He made no threats of vengeance; but He trusted Himself and everything to Him Who judges fairly" (1 Pet. 2:20-23 - Amplified).
The humility of Jesus did not permit Him to judge anyone. God alone is the Judge of all men; and any man who judges another thereby occupies the place that God alone is entitled to occupy. As a man on earth, Jesus said, "I do not judge anyone" (Jn. 8:15). He committed all judgment to His Father. There too we see the beauty of His humility.
Jesus willingly submitted to the humiliating death that His Father planned for Him. Beyond the human instruments that planned and executed His crucifixion, He could discern the Father's hand and He willingly drank the cup that "the Father gave" (Jn. 18:11).
"He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8).
This is the real Jesus of the Scriptures. Unlike modern evangelists, He was not honoured as a celebrity or a film-star. On the contrary, He was despised and rejected by men; and the world of His day got rid of Him by nailing Him to a cross. The world today is no different; and the disciple is not above His Master. A Christianity that is popular and that attracts the honour of the world is a counterfeit of the true faith. The entire life of Jesus - from birth to death - demonstrated the fact that "that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God" (Lk. 16:15).
"Learn of Me," Jesus said, "for I am humble of heart" (Matt. 11:29). Humility was the main thing that Jesus asked His disciples to learn from Him. And that is what we must learn from Him too.