EL CAJON, Calif. – We all have “I” trouble. Our first thoughts tend to be of ourselves, and we’re jealous for our own standing. Our conversation centers on ourselves. Our spending is lavished on ourselves. Our favorite prefix is self-, as in self-absorbed, self-actualizing, self-appointed, self-asserting, self-assured, self-concept, self-confidence, self-conscious, self-… well, you get the idea.
There’s only one cure for this disease – to fix our eyes on Jesus, studying His life, following His example, and letting His Spirit reproduce His life in our hearts. One of the reasons we shy away from humility is because we picture humble people as unimportant, innocuous, self-depreciating.
But none of those words describes the One who perfectly practiced this grace. Jesus Christ was assertive when the occasion demanded, courageous in the face of danger, decisive in confronting evil, and confident in His calling and abilities. Yet He described Himself as “lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). He was a picture of humility.
Christ’s humility is seen in His willingness to put our needs before self-interest. In Philippians 2, Paul wrote, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
His humility is seen in the lowliness of His birth, as His mother “wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
His humility is seen in His subjection to His parents (Luke 2:51) and, later, in the simple lifestyle He chose for Himself. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests,” He said, “but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
His humility is seen in His willingness to associate with the despised and scorned (Luke 15:1-2), and in His turning away honors (“I do not receive honor from men” – John 5:41). As God, He accepted worship; but as man, He was unimpressed with adulation. His very entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was a symbol of humility (Zechariah 9:9), as was His washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-12). On the cross He submitted to suffering, exposed Himself to reproach, and bore the punishment for sin.
What can I do?
How, then, can we better follow the Master’s footsteps? First, read often in the Gospels. Make the study of Christ a lifelong pursuit. As you read, pray over the chapters you’re studying. Your familiarity with Christ’s words and actions will help you make Christ-like decisions when you face difficult situations.
It’s also important to be faithful to your local church, especially when the Lord’s Supper is offered. We should often recall our Lord’s love for us as demonstrated on Calvary.
Third, make a choice to be humble. While humility is a grace that develops within us, it’s also a choice we make each day. The Bible seems to put the ball in our court when it says things like:
- Humble yourselves (1 Peter 5:6).
- Put on … humility (Colossians 3:12).
- Be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5).
- Walk … with all lowliness and gentleness (Ephesians 4:1-2).
Be sensitive to moments when you find yourself being too self-assertive. Watch out for times of anger, celebration, achievement or competition. When you feel you’ve been proud or selfish, confess it to God and ask Him to help you put others first.
Finally, make a game of spotting needs in the lives of others. Quietly seek to meet those needs, and do it, whenever possible, secretly. Seek to serve instead of being served.
“I” trouble can be healed, and the “Disease of Me” needn’t be fatal when we put ourselves in the hands of the Great Physician who said, “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” (Matthew 11:29).
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org. For permission to reprint it, contact Myrna Davis at [email protected].)