Achieving Humility (as odd as that sounds) (1 Peter 5:5-6 and John 13:3-17)
WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – It’s surprising that we have such a difficult time with humility, especially since we have so much to be humble about. Yet our Master, who had nothing to be humble about, seemed to find acting in humility so easy:
During the Last Supper, “Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into his hands, that he had come from God, and that he was going back to God. So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself … and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel” (John 13:3-5)[**Lord Jesus, give your heart of humility to me as I write these words and to my dear brothers and sisters as they read them. Help us follow you in taking the low place so that we can lift others to higher places. And give us your joy in seeing how those we serve are refreshed and prepared to walk on with you.**]
The Old Testament is filled with warnings about pride, and the New Testament is filled with encouragements to humility. One of my favorites is today’s passage from 1 Peter:
“All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet 5:5-6).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – Humility is not something that happens to us; it’s something we do. It’s not something we hope to grow into; it’s a decision we make each day.
Jesus stripped off the outer garments that marked a free citizen, and he wrapped a servant’s towel around himself. And after he’d washed all their feet, he said to them and to us, “I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:15). He means for us to serve one another in humility.
Humility is not something you develop; it’s something you wrap around yourself: “clothe yourselves with humility.” And it’s not, at first, an attitude you have about yourself; it’s an action you take “toward each other.” You can be humble toward others without feeling particularly humble. The feelings will follow the actions; not the other way around. With practice, the feelings will come more naturally and frequently, making the acts of humility much easier.
Peter lists three priceless benefits of living in humble service to God and others:
- You’re going the same direction as Jesus – That makes many things easier. On the other hand, when you’re moving against God’s grace, divine friction will make things more difficult because “God resists the proud.”
- “God cuts you lots of slack” – That’s my favorite colloquial translation of “God gives grace to the humble.” As much as I mess up, I need lots of slack.
- In God, humility is the path to exaltation – “Humble yourselves…so that he may exalt you at the proper time.”
Here’s what Jesus promised at the end of His foot washing lesson: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). So far, I know them much better than I do them. I’d like to work on that. How about you?