Red letter Words
In 2019 I felt inspired to study the Words of Jesus. The Words in red in my red-letter Bible. I wrote out every Word He spoke according to His commands, His warnings and His promises. It was an phenomenal experience. Though I had been reading the Bible for over 20 years, suddenly the Words of Jesus came alive. Like I was reading them for the first time. Once I had categorized them, I then listed them according to subject headings and compiled them into the little book ‘What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?’ (which is available as a free download on this site). I then listed the top ten subject headings according to the number of times Jesus spoke on them (page 133 in the book). I will cover the top ten over the forthcoming days.
The tenth most common subject Jesus spoke on was humility
The tenth most common subject Jesus spoke on was regarding humility. In Luke 14:11 Jesus says specifically For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. This is repeated in the other Gospel accounts. However in Matthew 18:4 Jesus says, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? How do we envisage a person who would be considered greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Maybe someone who performs many miracles? or someone who has a daily slot on a God channel? Maybe even someone who has a big church? … not according to Jesus. No – it’s someone who is as humble as a child. But what does this actually mean?
Humility is the right and appropriate attitude of the created being towards his divine Creator. It is coming on bended knee to acknowledge our absolute dependence on Him. It is a recognition that to even be granted life is a work of His grace and with that comes a fresh, daily opportunity to demonstrate our love for Him. As Paul said In Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ. To live is to serve Christ and show Christ to the world.
Humility is also being sin-conscious.
Humility is also a consequence of being sin-conscious. Being able to see the depravity and wickedness in our own lives and how we constantly fall short. And so constantly needing a Saviour to save us from ourselves.
1 Cor 4:6-7 Paul admonishes them that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Humility is in the acknowledgement that everything we have, everything we know or have some form of revelation on – has been received. It has not come through some super intelligence of our own. No – it has been given.
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus would not accept any praise
Jesus would not accept any praise on earth but he gave all glory to God and spoke of His total dependence on the Father. We are to be like Him. He stooped to wash the feet of His disciples, symbolising the whole meaning and message of His purpose. Jesus surrendered His divine status to live as a human being at the lowest level of poverty and obscurity, eventually dying in humiliation and torture.
So the life of the faithful disciple must be a life of humility. He must increase; I must decrease it says in John 3:30. A true disciple must turn his back on status, security, and success, asking only an opportunity to serve, however unassumingly. In Mark 10:43 but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.
The faithful disciple fights a continual battle against pride
The faithful disciple fights a continual battle against pride which is the root of sin, that egotism which results in self-centeredness, self-exaltation, self-will, self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-glorying, and so a self-delusion. As we keep on winning the battle against pride and presumption, we will mature in that holiness which flourishes only in the soil of humility.
Humility is the child of that radical God-centered-ness which gratefully acknowledges His sovereign bestowal of gifts and His sovereign enabling in service; thus it eliminates the arrogance that destroys community. Completely devoid of arrogance, humility nevertheless rejoices with Mary, He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name (Luke 1:49).’
Micah 6:8 says, What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Adapted from M. S. Enslin, The Ethics of Paul (1930); B. Häring, The Law of Christ, Vol. 1 (1961), Vol. II (1963)
A hindered walk Remove the stone from your shoe Let nothing hinder your walk. Empty your hungry mouth Of all idle talk. Is doesn’t take a big stone In some fashionable shoe, To make our walk Uncomfortable in You. It doesn’t take a big thing In our lives that is wrong, To alienate ourselves From You, to whom we belong Do not allow anything To hinder your walk with Me. Shake out, drive out the stones Of painful impurity. You can step forward From today’s sorrow In the knowledge that you can more worthily Walk in Me tomorrow. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: I see my pride and egoism always before me. Forgive me Father and deliver me from all self-centeredness. Help me live a God-centered life, in gentleness and humility and willing to serve wherever you give opportunity. In Jesus Name. AMEN