1 Corinthians 13:4-8a reads,
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.
And Galatians 5:22-23 reads,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We have looked at patience and kindness, today we will look at humility, that is what it takes not to boast or be arrogant, rude, or insist on our own way. It is an important part of gentleness. Though Jesus certainly did not have to be humble, being the Son of God, the Messiah, Creator, Lord of lords, and King of kings, He was the epitome of humility. He did not call His followers by saying “Look at me, I am so great and smart and powerful. He loved people, spoke the truth to them, and cared for them in ways they most needed to see that compassion displayed. He never just said to anyone, “I am the Messiah you’ve been waiting for, follow me.” He did acknowledge He was the Messiah after others said it of Him and once He told someone that He was.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-43), He could have been arrogant as most Jews were when they came across the hated Samaritans who had muddied the religion they held so dear. He could have been rude to her about her lifestyle of ever-changing men and living with a man outside the sacredness of marriage. But instead, He was kind, loving, and gentle; He was humble. He asked her to get Him a drink, something that required humility from a Jewish man to a despised Samaritan woman. When He asked her that, it showed respect for her as a person created in the image of God, no worse or better than anyone else in the world.
It was His humble love which caught her attention and made her open to His conversation. He, unlike other Jews gave her the option to enjoy worship of God and when He did that, He told her outright that He was the Messiah. He did that with no one else in the Gospels. Verses 22-26 of the passage read,
“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Even the one time when He declared who He is, it was an act of humility as He revealed this amazing truth to a woman who was hated by Jews and a pariah in her own community. The conversation He was willing to have with her changed her life, cleansed her soul, exalted her in her village, and allowed her, this woman known for how sinful she was to bring others to Jesus.
What does humility look like for us? Ephesians 5:15-21 says,
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When we think to highly of ourselves, we lose focus on Christ as the center and author of our lives and we lose sight of the people around us who need our service, love, compassion, and encouragement; we lose the opportunity to be the image of Christ to the world who needs Him as much as we do. Remember you are who you are only because of the grace of God. If it were not for His choosing you, mercy for you, and indwelling of you, you would be a slave to the prince of the world instead of the Bride of the King of kings. Romans 12:9-21 is another passage which describes what a person in the image of Christ looks like. Humility is key in this description.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Could you in pride, self-importance, or arrogance choose to lovingly serve someone who hurts you? Could you bless rather than persecute if you are concerned about making yourself look and feel good? Humility leaves it up to the Lord and trusts Him to be who He says He is. When we are humble, serving the person who hates us is not about making him burn because he realizes you are the bigger better person, it is about making him burn because he realizes the love of Christ in you. It is about wanting him to know Jesus as much as God wants him to know Jesus. When we are truly humble, we are not going to bother being offended by people. We can’t get pulled off our high horse if we are humbly bowed before our Lord, living and loving in His will.
The proud cannot find Salvation, they cannot find God. The first step of salvation is a penitent heart, the heart that recognizes her desperate need of Jesus. Proverbs 3:34 reads,
Toward the scorners he is scornful,
but to the humble he gives favor
Peter quoted that verse in 1 Peter 5:5b-7
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Interestingly, both Peter and James when they quote “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”, follow it up with warnings about the devil. Verses 8-11 which immediately follow read,
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen
And James 4:6-10 says,
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Pride allows the enemy to attack you and makes you think you can defend yourself against him without God. But if you stand firm in Christ that is if you are humble and remember it is God’s grace and nothing of yourself, you don’t have to fight Satan because the devil will flee, you only have to resist. All the accusations, attacks, and ammunition he flings at you are meant to take your focus of Jesus and onto yourself. It is prideful to think about yourself so much. Even those self-depreciating thoughts are actually prideful. How much of your heart is about how difficult your life is, self-pity, self-indulgence, or self-righteousness? How much of your heart is filled with despair over your life instead of hope over the life God gave you? It is all pride. 2 Corinthians 10:1-6 teaches us a practical way to resist the devil and remain humble by depending on God. Paul wrote,
I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
It is clear here first that the way some of us envision Paul as brash and bullish is not what he was like. He was humble even weak in appearance. His strength and boldness came from Jesus. It is also obvious that lofty opinions are spiritual warfare against the knowledge of God. Our part in this fight is to take every captive to obey Christ. If the thought is not in line with obedience to Christ, boom it is out of there and has no chance to bring us down. If the thought says, you’re not worthy to serve the Lord, bang the prison door is closed on it and it does not have the chance to attack us. If the thought says that you’re too good to put up with this offense or that injury and you should avenge God (which is disobeying Him) then whack that thought is caged and the enemy cannot pull you away from God. Whatever thought be it fearfulness, egotism, anger, or busyness which speaks against who God is and leads us to disobey Him is taken captive and replaced with the truth. The truth sets us free to obey Christ. The truth humbles us and leads us to rely on God and never ourselves.
We do not have to exalt ourselves, God will do that if we are humble. Remember the day will come when we will be lifted up to spend eternity with the Lord in New Jerusalem. The day will come when Justice will be carried out by God and those who were not humble enough to submit to Him and allow Him to be their savior will suffer His wrath.
Humility is only possible in love and love is impossible without humility. Jesus is our example and our goal. Philippians 2:1-16 reads,
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Be blessed, Brothers and Sisters, walk in the humility of Christ and be a light in this world which so desperately needs the love of Jesus.