God has many wonderful character attributes for which we should be thankful, and which we should seek to emulate. But the Lord has laid on my heart one attribute that was vital in order for Him to leave the glories of Heaven; to come to earth where He took on the form and restrictions of man and knowingly subjected Himself to suffer humiliation, rejection, and tremendous physical suffering at the hands of mankind; and temporary abandonment from God His Father because He took upon Himself the sin of the world. It is also the character quality that we must possess if we are to receive Him as our Savior and the King of our heart. That quality-- which is greatly undervalued in our culture but of inestimable value in God’s eye-- is humility.
Have you ever considered where you’d be if God, the One Who created the universe and sustains it by the power of His Word, had not chosen to humble Himself and become ‘flesh and blood’? You—and I—would forever be condemned to death, hell and damnation due to our sin that only Jesus, a sinless, righteous man could remove from us.
Human reason would say that if God were to humble Himself and choose to come to earth that He at least should have been born into the family of earthly royalty and lived in a palace-- or at least born to wealthy, influential parents. Instead, God chose to humble Himself even further by being born in an obscure town to a young virgin and her betrothed who were of lowly status and of no repute in the world’s eyes. He chose to humble Himself and be born to an ordinary couple in an ordinary city so that all people would know that He is approachable, those who are ‘down and out’ as well as those who are ‘rich and famous’ by the world’s standards. He is the only Living God Who came to save ALL people who choose to believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior and Lord.
Out of all of the character attributes that Jesus could have chosen to describe Himself when He walked on earth, He emphasized His humility:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NIV
It is when we are willing to humble ourselves that we will find not only the rest that our souls desire, but we will also discover the joy of our life’s purpose, which is found in humbling ourselves, living in submission to His Word and His will, and having a relationship with Jesus at the center of our lives— worshipping Him and making His name known.
As we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth, have you ever considered that each of the focal characters in the Christmas story were willing to humble themselves; they were willing to risk being considered fools by others; and that in doing so they lived out the very purpose for which they were created? It takes humility to believe in and submit to the word of someone else when that ‘word’ seems to defy our logic, reasoning, and understanding, and when believing that word and acting upon it will likely result in others thinking we are foolish.
Mary, a virgin, had to be willing to humble herself and surrender her ‘understanding’ in order to believe the angel Gabriel’s word to her that she would bear a child who would be the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. She had to be willing to suffer the consequences of telling her family and Joseph about her pregnancy, as well as the humiliation of having the local gossips’ tongues wagging about her becoming pregnant during her betrothal period. Joseph also had to be willing to submit to the word of the angel Gabriel, and to risk having his family and the community think he was guilty of sexual sin, or just plain foolish to go ahead and marry Mary since she was pregnant by someone other than him. (Luke 1:26-55; Matthew 1:18-25) How different their lives would have been and what they would have missed out on if they had refused to humble themselves and obey God, His word, and His instructions to them!
The shepherds who were in their fields tending to their sheep when all of a sudden they heard an angel joined by a heavenly host declare that a Savior had been born in a manger in Bethlehem had to humble themselves in order to believe the angel’s ‘far-fetched’ declaration. They had to humble themselves, risk rejection and being considered delusional as they left their flocks and went into Bethlehem to find the newborn King, along the way sharing with others the news they’d been told by a host of angels who had appeared to them, mere shepherds who weren’t considered to be a respectable profession. (Luke 2:8-20)
The magi, highly revered in their eastern country, also had to be willing to humble themselves and subject themselves to criticism as many people in their country and along the way likely considered them foolish for choosing to travel such a great distance in pursuit of a shining star they believed was the sign of a newborn king. And, especially given their worldly status, once they found Jesus they had to be willing to humble themselves to bow down before an worship a mere baby who was born to lowly parents. (Matthew 2:1-12)
The devout and righteous Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) and the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) also had to be willing to humble themselves as they acknowledged that Jesus, although a mere infant born to a couple lowly in status, was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Simeon may have wondered if Mary and Joseph would think he was crazy, but instead of focusing upon himself, he humbled himself before God and obeyed Him by speaking the very prophetic words about Jesus that God gave him to share with Mary and Joseph. Anna was willing to risk others’ rejection of her as she went about sharing her joy of seeing Jesus, whom she claimed to be the Messiah.
Do you think that those mentioned above who are such an integral part of the Christmas story had some fears about what others might think of them? I would imagine that it at least crossed their minds that others might think they were fabricating a tale and would not be believed…HOWEVER… they were ALL willing to humble themselves and risk being considered ‘fools’ for Jesus’ sake! How did they overcome their fear of what others would think of them—a fear that is always rooted in pride? By humbling themselves and getting their focus off of themselves and instead fixing their eyes and thoughts upon pleasing God! The very God Who had humbled Himself for their sakes to come to earth in human form so that He could give His life as a ransom for them so that they could be reconciled to their holy, Heavenly Father!
Jesus had to be willing to humble Himself to come to earth to be born a man, and we have to be willing to humble ourselves if we are to come to Jesus. The ONLY way that we can receive Jesus as our Savior is if we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that we need a Savior. We must be willing to humble ourselves and admit our need, and also to humble ourselves and believe what others may consider a ‘foolish word’—that God so loved the world that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to take on human flesh so that whoever would believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior would have eternal life and become children of God. (John 3:16; John 1:12)
Jesus’ focus on earth was never on Himself and doing His own will. He was always focused on doing the will of His Heavenly Father. He trusted that whatever His Father asked Him to do was always for His good and out of love for His Son. Jesus has left us an example of humility and obedient submission for us to follow. (Philippians 2:1-11) When we humble ourselves, put our faith and trust in God, and walk in obedience to Him--like Jesus and those who were part of the ‘first Christmas’ did—we will receive the blessing of playing an integral role in God’s great plan of drawing people to Himself to save them. And like them, we will realize that the value of our life is not to be found in doing our own will, but in walking in humility before God and even being considered a ‘fool’ by others so that the King of Kings will be magnified and made known to others. We will also have the privilege of sharing in the glory that God has prepared for all who love Him and demonstrate that love by humbly submitting to His will— and His will is that we believe in Him, receive Him as our Savior, and obey His commands that He gave to us for our good (2 Thessalonians 2:14; John 6:29; John 14: 15). Like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna, we will realize that the value and joy of our life is found in centering it upon Jesus, the One Who is the center of all of history—better known as ‘His story’— because Jesus willingly humbled Himself for our sakes, so that we might be reconciled to God, have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, and be glorified with Jesus, the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, Who alone is worthy of all praise, honor and glory!
What about you? How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very humble and 10 being very prideful? How do you think those who know you best would rate you? Is your life focused upon making a name for yourself, or upon making Jesus’ name known? Is pride standing in your way of coming to Jesus and acknowledging that you need a Savior? I encourage you to ask Jesus to give you a heart like His that is humble and gentle, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He longs to have you come to Him, and He will never turn you away!
Lord, help me to get my focus off of myself and help me to fix my thoughts, emotions, and actions upon living for You and your glory. Give me a humble heart that is always obedient to the will of my Heavenly Father. And may I be willing to risk being humiliated, rejected, and abandoned by others as I go forth and share with them the good news of Who You are, why you chose to come to the earth to take on the form of a man, and that salvation is found in Jesus, and in Jesus alone! In your Name I pray. Amen.
Written by Julie