A Christian friend commented that one of his new year’s resolutions will be to ‘work on humility’, prompting me to search the NIV bible for the words ‘humble’ (search results) and ‘humility’ (search results).
I was somewhat surprised to see it’s always command (of ‘be humble’) rather than a gift (of humility from the Holy Spirit). There appears to be two main types of humilty:
- being humble before God, and
- being humble before others
I believe the first is relatively easy if you have a clear perspective of God – reading about God’s visit to Elijah or God reminding Job of his place are just two of many examples showing our relative place before Him. And it’s difficult to accept God’s gift of salvation without first acknowledging your inability to save yourself and God’s ability to save – humility before God is essentially a prerequisite to a relationship with Him.
I think it’s the second, of being humble before others, that’s the kicker. Paul’s letter to the Christian believers in Philippi speaks to this in detail that’s worth quoting in full:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2 (NIV)
So those of us already in a relationship with God (Christians) are to consider others better than ourselves and look to their interests. And our model for doing so is the God all mankind (for whom nothing is too difficult – Jer 32:27) who humbled Himself for us, taking the very nature of a servant and dying for us. Mind-blowing stuff.