Throughout scripture we see Jesus continually meeting the needs of others, from a place of peace, knowing exactly who he was. He understood his identity and mission, and humbled himself to follow all his Father asked of him, even to death. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) Today is Good Friday, the day that we remember this incredible sacrifice by which Jesus died on the cross for us, in our place. This is the ultimate example of love and humility.
A common misconception about humility is that it is being down on yourself or talking yourself down in front of others. But actually, humility is simply knowing rightly who you are, as one uniquely created in the image of God. The gift of this lens is that we can also see the wonderful strengths and DNA that God has intricately woven into us. Humility allows for confidence in being fully who we are, knowing our assets and our shortcomings, yet still trusting we were made wonderfully and with purpose. From this place of assurance, we can begin to look outside of ourselves to meet the needs of others, just like Jesus did.
In the message paraphrase of 1 Peter 5: 5-6, Peter shares how we are to approach relationships with God, self and others. “In every relationship, each of you must wrap around yourself the apron of a humble servant. Because: God resists you when you are proud but multiplies grace and favor when you are humble.”
Isn’t that a wonderful picture- wrapping around yourself the “apron of a humble servant”? Jesus did this when he washed his disciples’ feet, giving us the example to follow of right heart posture of serving others in love. In this place of ‘washing others’ feet’, “grace and favor” are multiplied. But let’s not be mistaken. These are acts motivated by God’s love and his Spirit at work in us. When we step through the door into God’s invitation of relationship and surrender to him, the fruit of the Spirit actually become evident and grow in our lives. The fruit developed within us are aspects of God’s character, such as love, gentleness, peace and patience, which actually allow us to humbly see and serve others.
There are many things, however, that prevent the fruit of the Spirit from flourishing, things that actually cause division in our relationships with God and others, such as resentments, unforgiveness, apathy and shame, to name a few. God is continually drawing us out into greater levels of trust and freedom, and in order to live free in him, we must rightly assess and bring to light, with the Spirit’s power, these dark areas in our heart that we often choose to hide. The psalmist writes this prayer that we are invited to echo: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
When we know who our God is, our perspective of who we are gets renewed. Pride falls away, when we finally look through the right lens. We are always in the process of being refined, but as we surrender and step out in faith, it is God’s kindness and love that draws us to heal further from the past or current situations that have harmed us and others. In this place of being held by God, we can shine a light on the darkness and expose it without fear, trusting that God will enable and bring about healing.
God wants to bring us back into right relationships, into community, and to let our light shine before others, not run and hide from him or others! True humility grows as we become increasingly aware of how great our God is to extend mercy and grace to us fallen humans time and time again. This is what we celebrate at Easter. Even though we are not yet perfect, God still desires a close relationship with us. Jesus died to pay the price for our sins- all the times we miss the mark- past, present and future, so we never have to run or hide from him, or feel separated from his great love. He continually invites us to come as we are, bring him our lack and failures and let him lift us back into freedom. This is living in humility. This is hope!