Friday, September 28, 2007


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" - Philipians 2:3

I'm nearly ok with treating others like they're as good as I am, but "better than I am"? I don't know if I'm ready for that.

I used to be in a band with three other guys. I was the lead vocalist and lyricist. Early on I told all of them they had permission to kick my butt if they ever felt like I was getting too prideful or self-absorbed. Luckily, they all were quite eager to provide a butt-kicking to my ego whenever necessary, and I managed to hold my pride in check for nearly five years.

Actually, my ego was still incredibly virile, but I shudder to imagine what it would have been like had my band-mates not engaged in actively serving me large helpings of humble pie.

"Humility is a virtue so beyond my understanding that should I achieve it, I would be proud of myself" - Benjamin Franklin

Someone once defined a prideful person as someone who spends too much time thinking about themselves and not enough time thinking about me. I can relate.

As an only child I've never had any trouble thinking of myself, or how everything in the Universe relates to me, or to who I am or what I want. Maybe I'm so fascinated by the discipline of humility because I realize that I am most lacking of this quality?

Andrew Murray once said, "Humility is not thinking less of myself, it is not thinking of myself at all."

If this is so, I've got a long way to go towards humility.

The verse in Philipians urges us to consider others as being better than ourselves. I struggle with treating people as being on par with myself, to be honest. The idea of putting the needs of others above my own is still not the same as behaving as if everyone around me is actually better than I am. I can put the needs of others above my own needs and still believe that the people I'm serving are less important or intelligent than I am. What I'm called to do in this verse is to consider others through the lens of humility, and to see them as better than I am, as more deserving of honor and service than I am.

Again, God's Word compels us to throw ourselves on His mercy and confess that we are not capable of such selflessness. It's just not in me to love others sacrificially, or to serve them joyfully, or to regard them as more important than I am. It's just not.

That's where we have to fall on our knees and pray that God would transform us into the sorts of people who are capable of loving and serving this way. I need to beg God for the kind of humility that actually believes that others around me are better than I am. This means believing that I am not as fabulous as I think I am. It means humbling myself before God, and even before other people, so that God can work in me, and through me. My heart needs to be softened, like clay, so that God's fingerprints can be seen in my life as He kneads and twists and forms my heart into the shape of His Son's.

One interesting thing about the Kingdom of God is that to enter it you must first humble yourself, (see Mark 10:14-15). That's because the Kingdom of God is quite simply that place where the absolute will of God is done. This means that God is King, and that you and I are not. So, if we will not humble ourselves and submit to God's will in every way, we cannot enter the Kingdom. Better said, when we refuse to humble ourselves, we have left the Kingdom of God and entered our own Kingdom, where our will is done.

Even Jesus began his ministry by humbling himself to become flesh, to be born to a simple, poor family, and even to lay down his life for us all. (see Phil 2:5-8) See, God went first. He humbled Himself before us. He submitted Himself to us first, and even when we were putting nails through His hands and feet, He continued to surrender to us in order to rescue us from our sins.

I believe that is why Jesus set the example of washing his disciples feet. He humbled himself before them, served them as a slave would serve his master, and then said, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you...Now that you know these things, you will blessed if you do them." (John 13:15;17)

God has a lot to say about pride, and as I go through my life I have seen the wisdom of these words played out numerous times. "God opposes the proud, but gives Grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34)

This is good news, because I need Grace in greater measure every single day. If humility is the only way to receive this Grace, I am more than willing to be humbled, and to remain there, so that the Grace of God may shower down on my life like warm summer rain.

Let it rain.


1 comment:

daredevil disciple said...

I believe Philipians 2:3 is written to overcome our slefishness. The rest of the Bible says over and over to love our neighbor 'as' ourself.
Two Commandments/three loves. Love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself; as if you were one of your neighbors.
Do the most loving thing for everyone concerned; not excluding yourself.