Sesame Street, the children's television program, conjures up fond memories for me. In one dramatic sketch, a group of four items would be shown, one of which was different from the other three. The intended goal was to identify the item that clearly did not belong. A similar sequence occurs to me from this passage Paul wrote about Jesus: human humbled servant God. Which of the four does not belong? God. And then along came Jesus.
Let's take a look. Writing from his dark prison cell, Paul charged the Philippian Christians to be more concerned about others than themselves, to spurn selfishness and conceit, and instead, choose to be like Jesus. 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! Phil. 2.5-8
Here is what we have: Jesus Christ - in nature God, equal with God. And yet ... Jesus chose to make himself nothing, assumed the nature of a servant, took on human flesh, humbled himself, chose to be obedient, even to death-to the worst kind of death, crucifixion.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Paul said. That attitude or disposition? Humility. Humility isn't something regarded too highly in our culture, however the Scriptures hold out humility as a virtue to be sought after, a quality to embody, a discipline to be practiced and honed, an attitude to possess. 'Interesting to hold this disposition of humility up against the perception of The Church today; outsiders seem to see us as judgmental, hypocritical, homophobic, etc. 'Seems we Christians (insiders) need to examine ourselves, so that The Church is more like Jesus-humble, unselfish, and not self-seeking. It is clear that God puts a premium on humility, while he despises the kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness.
Scripture is quite clear on this humility thing-"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."1 Are you humble? It certainly influences your attitude in life, you know. If you operate from a correct view of yourself, it means you look through lenses of humility. Humility rightly values God-esteem above all else, fights the natural human bent of self-centeredness, and holds the feelings of others dear. Wanting to be humble, a man or woman isn't thinking just about how 'this or that' makes him feel or 'what's in it' for her-no, she is not thinking just of herself, but rather the needs of others before his or her own. Kindness flows from humility.
"Lord, show us how to be humble."
Humility gives us right perspective in our relationships-vertical and horizontal. To be clear, I am not suggesting that humility means being self-effacing or self-deprecating. On the contrary, when we are self-effacing or self-deprecating we may just be exhibiting different forms of pride that turn voices of reassurance our way. Humility is not putting ourselves down, it is not lousy self esteem or lack of confidence; rather, true humility comes from a place of strength and inner security. In order to truly be secure within, we must know Whose we are, and therefore, Who we are. Genuinely humble people who have a desire to seek the well-being of others are actually generally very secure people. They are fully aware of their gifts, their training, their experience, and all the attributes that make them successful at whatever they do. That security-that honest, healthy self-assessment-results in more than healthy self-assessment; it results in more than a humble constitution. It translates into actions that can be observed, actions that we want to emulate, and actions that reflect favorably on Jesus Christ.2 (and "The Church")
Humility is a right position of the heart-toward the Lord, toward others, of ourselves. A right heart position makes one thing that does not seem like the other fit: Christian, servant, unselfish, and self-sacrificing.
"Jesus, teach us to be more like you; teach us to be humble."
1 - Micah 6.8
2 - Thoughts from Chuck Swindoll, So, You Want to be Like Christ?