Character Trait No. 32
Definition: Recognizing my weakness and showing awareness, as a little child, that God and others are responsible for the accomplishments in my life.
“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD - BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” I Pet.5:5-6
Humility, like all the other good character traits, is perfectly revealed in the life of Jesus. After all, this series of lessons is about the character that counts – the perfect character of Jesus. We have seen that this is the perfection that is possible for the Christian while still in the flesh, through the help of the Holy Spirit. The definition given says we should recognize “our weakness”. Now let us ask ourselves, was Jesus morally weak? No, but He did have some sort of “weakness” according to Hebrews. (Heb.2:17-18;4:15;5:7) Thus Christ can sympathize with our fleshly infirmities, as the KJV calls them. This is because He voluntarily poured Himself out, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men. (Phil.2: 7) Concerning this phrase, W.E. Vine, the Greek scholar quotes another scholar, Meyer, as saying:
“The expression ‘likeness of men’ does not of itself imply, still less does it exclude or diminish the reality of the nature which Christ assumed. That . . . is declared in the words ‘form of a servant.’ Paul justly says in the likeness of men because, in fact, Christ, although certainly perfect Man (Rom.5:15;I Cor.15: 21; I Tim.2:5), was, by reason of the Divine nature present in Him, not simply and merely man . . .but the Incarnate Son of God.” (Vine’s Expository Dict. Of N.T. Words, p.344)
In that same passage in the next verse (Phil.2:8), Paul writes, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The only conclusion that we can draw from all the Scriptural evidence is that Jesus became a man but still retained His divine nature. He was fully God and fully man at the same time, Emmanuel, Son of Man and Son of God. Whew! The incarnation is quite mysterious, but since Scripture affirms it, so must we. By the way, we also are indwelt with the same divine nature as Christ while we still walk in the flesh, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Now we can get to the core of what being humble is all about. It is not being morally weak, or even just physically weak. It is the voluntary choosing of a lowly servant position in order able to save others. Humility means the temporary hiding of our internal glory so we can approach ordinary humans and relate to their lost condition with grace and truth. It is a love thing, and a servant thing. One brother, Jay Wilson, says that being humble is being willing to do whatever it takes to get things done. I have often pondered over this statement without total comprehension. But when we consider what has been studied here, we start understanding that this might be a very astute definition.
Humility is a chosen characteristic by one who possesses some power or authority. How can one be said to be humble if he has no choice? Think about it. Jesus was all powerful, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, etc. (Is.9: 6). So we see His choosing to serve in a human form as a doulos (slave) - even unto His violent death at Calvary - as wonderful because He had a choice to do so or not. With one command, 12 legions of angels (with 6,000 per legion) could have delivered Him at any moment during the torturous process of His betrayal, “trial” and crucifixion. (Mat.26: 53) (Think what one angel did to the 186,000 Assyrians!) Jesus was King of king and Lord of lords, sovereign Creator of the universe, but He became mankind’s whipping boy to save us from our sins. O, who can comprehend the love of Jesus our Lord?
Now we can talk about us. Are we not God’s priest-kings of the order of Melchizedek, sons of the Almighty God who share in the divine nature? Have we not been resurrected with Christ and lifted up to dwell in heaven, seated now on His throne? We are powerful spiritual beings dwelling in clays of jar for a short while, serving and sacrificing ourselves for the faith of others. These bodies, Paul wrote, are the bodies of our humble
state. Now we anxiously long for the revealing of the sons of God, the deliverance from the sufferings of this present world, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. When He appears, we shall appear as He is.
Yet I ask you this simple question: If you were given a plane ticket to heaven today, and that meant that you could no longer help your loved ones be saved, would you take it? Would you leave your fellow prisoners behind in the death camp and not risk saving some of them from the certain death that faces each one? Would you want to go, knowing that by staying behind you could help edify others and win more souls? Paul put it this way:
“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
(Phil.1: 21-24) God places those in the body exactly where it suits them and where they are needed most. (I Cor.12: 18: Rom.12: 4-5) We have been “left behind” so that we can serve our fellow sinners, as were we before Christ forgave us at our immersion into Him. We are not “beamed up” by Scottie into celestial bliss at that time because there are “good works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”.(Eph.2: 10) We have been saved to serve.
So being humble requires that one cheerfully submit to being left on earth “in the condition in which he was called.” (I Cor.7: 20) As Jesus accepted His place as an obscure carpenter’s son in a small town of a tiny country, so must we accept our station in life with an awesome attitude. God knows what He is doing! Humbly accept what God allows. Look at Joseph. In due time, He shall lift you up. (I Pet.5: 7) He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Trust Him!
- Serving cheerfully in any capacity that we are able to serve.
- Giving ourselves fully to whatever task we are doing.
- Delighting in being able to serve others in any “lowly” way.
- Realizing that we are royal heirs who have voluntarily condescended to help others until we are exalted permanently in glory with Christ.
- “Except for God’s grace, there also go I” must be our motto. Paul called himself “the chief of sinners” when remembering the grace of God.
For a summary of humility, read Phil.2: 1-10, and Rom.12. In Romans, note the following:
- Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. Use sound judgement and know thyself. Paul also says in Gal. 6:3-4: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.” Even though we are all amazing new creations, there are varieties of gifts and maturity in Christ. Some are greater and more capable than others while we live out our lives on earth. Recognize where you stand in the body, and then fulfill your role without envy.
- Love without hypocrisy.
- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.
- Contribute to the needs of the saints.
- Practice hospitality.
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
- Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate
with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own mind.
- NEVER pay back evil for evil to anyone. (Two wrongs NEVER equal a right.)
These are some of the qualities of one who is truly humble. Study the life of Moses, who in his time was more humble than any man who was on the face of the earth. (Num.11:3) Develop the same perfect humility as Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve and give Himself as a ransom for many. Give Him the glory, and He’ll give you the victory. He will lift you up all the way to glory. Remember Joseph!