The world in which we live is saying to us, “Walk tall. Take pride in yourself. Be proud of your ethnicity or sexuality. Be proud of your accomplishments.” How then does this ride with the biblical emphasis on humility? The Son of God comes in humility, to serve, not to be served. He gives his life a ransom for many. He rides into Jerusalem to claim his royal status, but not in the fullness of pride, pomp, and prestige that ruling elites usually claim for themselves. An early Christian poem, quoted by Paul, described him as one who, in humility, emptied himself of all that sort of thing.
Humility for Jesus did not mean giving in to others. He knew his calling and he resolutely stuck to it in spite of temptations to deviate from it. His humility was anything but weak and powerless. His humility was not something to be aimed at for itself; it was a by-product of his devotion to the Father; and so the humility that we are called to is not a goal to be aimed at, but rather something that follows on from truly loving God with all our being. When the centre of our lives shifts from self to God, we lose self-centred pride and arrogance. Sometimes, however, we have to remind ourselves of this by deliberately taking the humble path.
The world is right; we are not called to become snivelling weaklings, despising ourselves or living in continual self-abasement. We are God’s beloved creatures, not meant, out of self-centred pride, to usurp God’s central position in life.
- Give examples, drawn from TV, other media or from conversations you have had, where pride was being encouraged.
- In what way did the Palm Sunday ride of Jesus into Jerusalem highlight the humility of Jesus?
- Think of a time when you deliberately took the humble path as an expression of your Christian faith.
- In the light of Jesus’ example, what is the difference between what might be called strong humility and weak humility?